This Valley Of Ours
By G.F.D.
 

Hello, this is my first story that I decided to begin after reading the Chakatís Den. Thanks to the help from Wakan Wolf, Cloud, and Tavem, I was able to get a better piece of work put out. This story takes place in the Chakat Universe and follows two characters during the start and early part of the Gene Wars. The setting is in Colorado. I hope youíll enjoy reading this as much as Iíve had writing this. If you have any questions, comments, tips, or things youíd like to see included, just mail me at sooprazn@gmail.com. Thank you! All characters mentioned, unless otherwise started, are created by me and are mine.

Chapter 1

I looked up at the clear night sky. The breeze flowed through the ragged trees, making an eerie sound, and yet it was peaceful up here. So unlike the hell in the valley below; tonight would be the first night in a long time that Iíd be able to rest. And as sleep overcame me, so did the thoughts from what felt like long ago.

"Hey Freak Lover!" came the rough and uncouth voice. I didnít need to turn around to know who it was, but not doing so would have made more trouble than necessary, so I was left to turn slowly towards the direction of the voice.

"What do you want, Avery?" I spoke to the giant Hispanic teen whose large smirk told me that he was up to his usual troublemaking.

"What do you think Iím talking about, you little piece of shit?" I tried to give him a blank look but I knew what was coming and so did the fox morph standing beside me. "Well since you obviously donít know what Iím about to tell you, Iíll give you a hint. It has to do with that wannabe-human freak standing next to you."

My face popped into a surprised look as I "remembered" what he kept harassing me about. "Oh you mean the thing about how Hannah," I motioned to my right where my supposed Ďslaveí stood. "is supposed to carry my books?"

The black-haired teen looked back with that unwavering smirk "Got it in one. Maybe youíre getting better at remembering where the lesser ones standÖ Foosatanee." I glared at his face knowing full well that he was trying to start a fight in between the two of us. All year he had been trying to start a fight, but I had restrained until now. Since this was my last day of school, I decided to give him what he wanted. I let my anger at his ignorance boil over, then opened my mouth to speak. But instead of a yell, I spoke in a restrained voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Well Iím not one to remember so well about what comes out of the mouth of a spoiled little douche like you. But I do remember telling you that my name isnít what you just said there."

Hannah shifted uncomfortably but didnít dare move closer to me in fear of getting me into more trouble. She knew that as a morph, she was treated differently. She also knew that I would be treated similarly if she did anything to raise suspicion.

Avery replied with a similar voice to mine, except louder so everybody could hear what he had to say. He knew I was pissed but he didnít want just a verbal argument. He had been waiting all year until this last day of both our senior years to confront me openly. I knew he didnít like people who were against the idea of slavery. As deeply ingrained as it is in our society, there were still a few people like me and my family who refused to accept slavery. And now he was going to speak his mind to me in front of all of my classmates that were supposed to be leaving school but, had gathered around to watch the show.

"What do you mean?" he said feigning ignorance. "I thought people who treat freaks as equals would be just as stupid as the creatures they treat as equals, Foosatanee."

I looked at him then spoke in a voice that the spectators could hardly hear, "Say it again". Avery looked at me with that smirk pasted on his face as is stuck there by duct-tape.

"WhatÖ Foosatanee? The freak lovÖ."

Before he could get that last word out, I slipped off my backpack and swung it around, hitting him in the side of the head, knocking him down. As the backpack impacted, the weight change almost made me lose a hold on the straps. The bag was full of the books, laptop, papers, and a project that just happened to be a large rock with crystals inside of it. All of it had been dumped into my backpack carelessly by me when cleaning out my locker.

As I considered what had happened, I heard yelling from behind me. I knew it was the school officials, and I knew who they were coming for. I turned towards Hannah who stared at the barely conscious Avery groaning on the ground. "RUN!"

My hand almost instinctively reached out and grabbed her slim, furry wrist as I started to run towards the alleyways around the schools. Just before I turned into the first alley with Hannah in tow, I yelled back at the top of my voice, "AND JUST FOR YOUR INFO, MY NAME IS PRONOUNCED FUSATANI!!"

We ran at least eight city blocks until Hannah started to slow me down. I looked back and made sure nobody was around before I talked to the fox morph. "OK, Iím sorry I grabbed your wrist like that, but why must we stop now?" Hannah just looked at me with those piercing emerald green eyes.

"You didnít have to do that. Now theyíll all know how your family treats me." I stopped her before she could say any more.

I calmed my voice before I spoke to her; after all running eight blocks isnít a walk in the park, especially in this hot June weather. "We both knew that this was a long time in the making." She just looked at me again with a somber look in her eyes.

"We should keep walking then, because we both know heís going to come after us sooner or later." I smiled at her. I donít care what anybody says; I know full well that she is just as smart as any human. I looked at the street signs and started to walk towards where our home was. As we neared the street Hannah started to walk a little behind me and her facial expression became more submissive. The look I gave her drew out a smile; she also knew full well that the practice of looking like a slave or acting like one annoyed the hell out of me. However it was necessary because, after all, the walls have eyes too.

 


Chapter 2

Hannah had been given to our family by Averyís family when we moved into our neighborhood. The first day after moving in, we had heard a knock; our new neighbors had come, inviting us to dinner.

"Will you get the door, Fred?" My mom yelled at me from behind a mountain of shipping containers that had been scattered on the floor earlier that day by movers. Fred is the name my mom gave me so that I wouldnít get weird looks out in public when she said Fusatani.

I walked out from my new room towards the door and looked at the screen mounted on the wall nearby to see who it was. From the camera on the door, I saw two adults, a teen about my age and a coyote and fox morph standing behind them with covered plates. My guess was that they were here to see what kind of people moved into their neighborhood. I slowly opened the door and gave them my best smile, which to other people is barely a twinge at the edges of my mouth. Itís not that I hate people, but I donít like to smile that much, even though when I do it is heartfelt.

"Hello, you must be the new neighbors we saw moving in today." The smile on the womanís face was unfaltering but the teenís smile was replaced with more of a frown, and the man, I guessed to be the father, just kept standing there with a somewhat red and indifferent face.

"Yes, weíre the Satos," replied my mother giving me a little start as she had snuck up behind me again, which drew a laugh out of our new neighbors. I looked back at the grinning mother of the family and noticed that the teen was trying to suppress a laugh.

"And you must be theÖ?"

"The Kerrs. By the way I havenít heard the name Sato before. I it foreign?" asked Mrs. Kerr.

"Itís Japanese. My husband and I are both part Japanese, and we also gave our son a name that has been in my husbandís family for a long time." The teen looked at me with mild interest and Mr. Kerr spoke to me with a slightly deep voice that commanded attention, definitely not as deep as my fatherís but still enough to distinguish itself from the crowd.

"And what would your name be?"

"Fusatani, Sato. But most people call me Fred, Mr. Kerr."

He lifted his eyebrow at me as if trying to delve the meaning of the name out of what he had heard. "Well that is certainly a unique name, Fred."

Mrs. Kerr then looked again at my mom. "Well, we didnít come here for just introductions. We decided to give you a real Colorado greeting and brought some food."

"You really shouldnít have, Mrs. Kerr"

Mr. Kerr raised his hand. "No, we insist. This is a tradition that we follow through with everybody, and you may have more people coming soon." He looked up towards us and I sensed that the neighbors coming werenít the only reason why he wanted to leave. He turned toward the slaves of his standing back a few paces. "Hey! Donít stand around, you lazy good for nothing slaves!" Mr. Kerrís voice startled my mother and I at the sudden shift in attitude. The fox morph and the wolf morph stepped forward with their heads down as I learned was customary, and I was able to get a better look at them.

The wolf morph looked old, grey streaks ran through his once brown fur and head hair. He walked with a very slight limp, carrying a tray of what smelled like a pie. The fox morph came forward. I noticed that she was about the same age as me and very pretty at that. She and had flame-red fur with white "socks" in a glove pattern on her rear paws and hands. As the wolf morph gave his plate to my mother, the fox morph raised her plate towards me.

"Thank you very much for this delicious smelling food." My mother had a tendency to be over-polite, so I knew what was coming up next as I took the plate from the fox morph, noting how heavy it was.

"Is there anything that I can get for nice neighbors like yourselves?" She was cut off again by Mr. Kerr. He surprised us again by his tone of voice which had changed from just a minute ago.

"No thank you, but we would also like to know whether or not you would be interested in a dinner with us tonight?" My mother started to speak about some packing, and even though I felt bad doing this, I interrupted her.

"We would be delighted to accept your invitation. What time would you like us to be there?"

"7:00 would be fine. Also, since you look busy, would you like number 2 to help you out?"

My mother and I gave him a confused look, to which Mrs. Kerr started up in a normal tone of voice, "Oh, number two is this slave right here." She pointed to the red fox morph. I recalled suddenly what my father had said about Romans, and do as they do, or something along those lines. Before my mother could say her refusal, I agreed to their offer. I thought it was a good choice, but it would have its consequences and benefits.

 


Chapter 3

The slave named Number 2 stood shyly looking at the ground as the Kerrs walked towards their house across the street. "Well why donít you come on inÖ number 2?" blurted out my mother after the nervous silence. The vixen looked up quickly but just as soon as my eyes met hers she looked back down at the ground. She quickly walked past me with her face toward the ground. My mother looked at me with a quizzical look about the behavior of this submissive vixen.

"Well if youíll excuse me, Iíll go and keep unpacking boxes. Need to get this small stuff organized you know." And so my mom left me with number 2 in the foyer in an awkward silence. I finally spoke up.

"Would you like a drink?" The vixen looked nervously at me and started to back away. "Wait, what did I say? Are you okay?" She looked at me and I saw fear in her eyes. I walked slowly up to her but she only backed away a little more until she bumped into the bare wall that was yet to have pictures hung on it.

"I donít want to hurt you." I could almost feel the fear and nervousness emanating from her. Something was wrong; I thought something might have been wrong when Mr. Kerr had raised his voice to that astonishingly high and angry point, but this was unprecedented.

I turned and found a chair and brought it to her. I then took another similar chair and sat on it. She looked at the chair and eased up a little and sat down with an exhausted sigh. I decided to risk opening up my familyís viewpoints to a complete stranger and told her about my whole family not supporting slavery. Maybe this would get rid of that fear or nervousness that still hung around the room. I felt that from the way she had been yelled at she wasnít the best treated of slaves. She slowly seemed to relax as I explained how since the thought was first circulated that morphs could be used as slaves that my grandfather was dead set against it.

My grandfather always told my father, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," and through my father, I memorized that quote to heart. As I explained this all to her, I could then visibly see her starting to relax. Her flow of fear through the room had stopped and she was looking at me eye to eye. That was when I noticed those shockingly green eyes for the first time. It was like a thousand emerald points had all their reflected light combined to make a billion little sparks in her eyes. The very edges became dark green and then maybe, just maybe there was the slightest hint of blue there. To study her eyes in any more detail would have been like trying to map a new planet. The fur around her eyes was a little matted as I noticed. I stood to go and grab a towel to let her dry her face off. I wondered why she would have been crying. This was one interesting individual.

When I returned she was in the same place, still on the mahogany chair that I had placed there. When she saw that it was me, she smiled for the first time. My heart skipped a beat as I handed her the towel. I let her dry off as I turned over the memory of her smiling at me in my mind. I looked back at her when I sensed that the movement in the foyer had ceased. She was looking at me and finally spoke.

"Your family has very nice values." I looked back at her and cracked one of my rare smiles. "Well it seems that you can smile after all." My smile then ceased to exist as I looked back at the grinning vixen.

"You didnít seem like a person who could smile at all when I saw you come out to the front of your house." I looked at her astounded, I thought she would be the kind of vixen who didnít speak much, but she seemed very talkative. And not that I minded, she did have a beautiful voice that almost reminded me of the glass chimes that were yet to be hung up since moving in. In a mock tone of frustration, I replied.

"Iíve opened up and told you all about my family, and you havenít even told me your name yet. Hell, all you do is ridicule me." I regretted that the second that I mentioned it. Her eyes were downcast again and I could feel sadness sweeping through the room like a fog bank sweeping across the low hill in Wyoming where we used to live.

"I donít have a name."

That shocked me; I went to kneel next to her and put an arm on her back and ran my palm up and down her back like my mother used to do when I got upset as a kid. She wasnít crying that much, but she was almost on the verge of sobbing. She looked up suddenly.

"I guess since I was put here to help, Iíll do that now." As she tried to get up I pushed her back into the seat.

"Ok, youíre not in any condition to do any work right now. Weíre going to solve this problem before I let you do anything." I thought for a moment before focusing on her again. "Do you want a name?"

The vixen looked up at me with a surprised look upon her face. "What do you mean give me a name? Can you even do that?"

I looked at her incredulously. "Of course! People choose nicknames donít they?"

She countered with an answer of her own. "What do you plan on calling me?"

I looked back at her with a steady gaze. "You can choose your own name. Itís your life after all, and in this household youíre our equal."

She looked let down when I said she could choose her own. "I donít know any names that would fit me."

I looked back at her with surprise. Surely the Kerrs didnít keep her in complete ignorance did they? "Do you want me to start giving you ideas off of the top of my head?"

She looked back at me instead of the floor. "I would appreciate that."

So I began. I tried to list all of the ones that I could name, then as my mind started to run dry, I remembered the last one. "Hannah."

She looked back at me thoughtfully and her face then lit up as if she had just found a lost treasure. She looked like she would explode in satisfaction in finding a long lost answer. "I would like that name very much, Fred."

The next several hours were spent talking and then helping clean around the house. We were able to work quickly. The extra help Hannah gave was not lost on my mother who commented on how little work I was doing in comparison to her. Almost thirty minutes before seven, my father finally came home from his job as a senior electronics engineer. He had decided to move us here to Colorado where the corporation had its headquarters after he was moved up in the pay scale. But since being here, heíd been working non-stop. We told him of the invitation but he exploded when he spotted Hannah.

"What the FUCK is a slave doing in MY NEW HOME!" he yelled when Hannah peeked her head around a corner after we told him about the party. She quickly went back around the corner before I could call her back.

"Dad sheís not our slave"

"That WASNíT the question. Now Iíll ask again WHAT is a slave doing in our house?" His voice was low like mine when I got angry. I looked him straight in the eye and explained as best I could.

"The family across the street has slaves and when they came over this morning they asked if we wanted her to be here today. And I figured since we didnít need to make enemies out of our new neighbors I accepted. Also since you always say, "When in Rome do as the Romans do". I thought my decision would be a smart choice. I didnít want to make enemies out of the new neighbors also."

My father considered this for a moment. "Just because you want to be friendly doesnít give you an excuse to accept slave labor."

I replied as quickly as possible before he could say anything else. "Iím sorry. At least sheíll be going back tonight."

We left right about the time specified by the Kerrs. When we left, Hannah walked behind us with her head slightly down. She had told me before we left that today was a day that she would remember for a long time. Not only had she gotten her own name, but she wasnít treated as a slave. But as we made our way across the street towards the Kerrs a feeling of nervousness filled me, and Iím absolutely sure Hannah and my mother felt the same. My mother and I, and now Hannah included knew about the way my father felt about slavery and the issue would probably be raised again.

"Welcome! Glad you could make it!" Mrs. Kerr seemed ecstatic about us coming to visit. Their son peeked at us from their living room. "Avery, come here and help out theÖ excuse me what was your last name again?"

My father looked back. "Fusatani"

"Ah yes, Foosatanee, Avery! Come here and help our guests with the food they prepared for us!"

"Just have Number One do that mom; Iím busy." Avery then turned around and walked to the next room.

Mrs. Kerr just looked after him with a somewhat incredulous look. "Well since Number One is cooking, I guess Number Two can bring the food in." Mrs. Kerr looked behind us at Hannah and then looked back at us startled. But she didnít say anything, instead she motioned us inside and we complied.

Dinner started but instead of a welcome atmosphere, it had begun to turn into what seemed like a funeral party. My dad finally broke the silence. "So, why the surprise at the doorÖ."

My mom looked at him "Donít go into th..."

"No, we need to get past this. Now as I WAS saying, why the surprise, and the cold attitude?" My dad gave the Kerrs a sly smile that I recognized was one that he used when he was prepared for an argument. Mr. Kerr responded quicker than expected.

"Why donít you treat a slave as what they are?"

"Because it goes against our morals"

"So you treat this, ANIMAL as your equal and let her slack?"

"No." My father paused and looked at Mr. Kerr with a cold gaze, and was met with one as equally cold. "By the looks of it you let your son slack more than Hannah here."

Mr. Kerr gave my father a chilling look, his face contorting like a sheet of red Mylar. He opened his mouth several times only to breathe.

"DONíT YOU TALK ABOUT AVERY LIKE THAT, YOU SLANT EYED JAP!"

My father kept looking at Mr. Kerr with a steady gaze. He didnít care what people called him about race. He had suffered a childhood filled with racism. Then all of a sudden a gasp emanated from Mrs. Kerrís mouth.

"They gave Number Two a nameÖ WHAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU OWN HER!!" Mrs. Kerrís voice was as sharp as broken glass. And before my father could speak again Mr. Kerr cut him off.

"GET OUT! PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT SLAVES HAVE NO PLACE IN THIS HOUSEHOLD, MUCH LESS THIS WORLD!"

My father rose from his place at the table he turned to look at Mr. and Mrs. Kerr. And then at their son whose name we had learned to be Avery. "Letís go. Apparently ignorance is tolerated here." And before the Kerrs could move, we all filed out through their front door. As we walked down their driveway in front of their house, we heard screaming. I turned in time to see the front door open with Mr. Kerr holding Hannah by the throat off to his side.

"TAKE THIS BITCH WITH YOU, YOU SOUL-LESS BASTARDS!" At that he lifted Hannah by the throat so he faced her, and let her drop. But as she fell he kicked her in the stomach and sent her sprawling into the grass in the front lawn.

"Hannah!" I gasped and ran toward her sprawled form; she gasped for air and turned toward the door which slammed shut. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to my fatherís sad face. "Step aside" I scuffled to the side and he picked up her limp body that was shaking from pain.

"You belong with us now Hannah; youíre in better hands now." My father told her as we walked across the street to our home. I turned around to see Avery looking from the widow. I knew she was going to be happier in our home. At least there she would be treated as an equal being, And so God help me if there is one, I will not let her suffer like before. That is a promise I intend to keep with my life.

 


Chapter 4

"We have incoming reports of a situation in the Grand canyon areaÖ."

"There have been shots firedÖ."

"An attack HAS occurred on Washington D.CÖ."

"There has been a declaration of war on terrorist groups consisting of gene projects operating within the borders of the U.S. and any supporters."

"There is discussion of launching a preemptive strike on theÖ."

"There has been a tactical strike against Hoover Dam, I repeat there has been a tactical strike."

The TV showed satellite images of the terror unfolding on that 4th of July morning. Hannah and I watched dumbfounded. Unable to move, we heard my mother come into the living room.

"Good morning, are you two ready for camping? I really hate it when you watch those violent movies, you know, Fred."

Hannah turned. "It isnít a movie," and pointed toward the CNN logo on the screen.

"Oh stop with the jokes, Hannah." My mother began to turn away. I turned toward my mother who looked like she was being fooled with.

"Then why is the date today?" My mother looked at me. "If this is a jokeÖ." She froze mid-sentence as my father came in the room with casual clothing prepared for the camping trip ahead.

"Whatís up?"

The whole room went silent as the TV showed images of military aircraft shot down over Washington. Then all of a sudden the image showed the Grand Canyon. A mobile gunship was flying in circles above, unleashing fire on a small convoy of virtually unarmed group of humans and furs. Nothing could be heard for a second as the commentator stopped his frantic ranting to look at the shocking image. Nobody spoke for a good while. Then my father walked over to the remote and shut down the TV. He turned and walked toward the kitchen followed closely by my mother who began to speak but was silenced by my father who raised a hand.

"Weíre going to have a normal day." Hannah and I looked up to my father from the table where we were playing chess to try to ease our nervousness. I looked at Hannah only to find she was already looking at me wondering what was going on. We knew that there were riots going on in some parts of the city, so why not leave? But since we didnít know what they were about, I guess we would stay. I would forever regret the decision of not finding out how serious the riots were. The rest of the day was wasted on nervous pacing and doing chores that really didnít need to be done. The shock of watching the images on TV that morning burned into everybodyís mind. We had seen the TV flashing images of scientists and furs alike. I couldnít help but wonder what Hannah was thinking or feeling.

As evening approached, we began to all help in setting dinner. I hadnít bothered to unpack my car that was filled with camping gear. I started toward the garage but my father stopped me.

"That can wait until after dinner. Letís enjoy the food that your mother spent all day preparing, eh?" He gave me a smile which I nervously returned.

We all sat down in our dining room that was hardly used. I guess that since my parents were disappointed about deciding not to go camping, they would try to have a nice dinner. We sat down with my father as one of the heads of the table with his back to our front window.

"Hannah! Come join us for dinner" cried out my mother in her singsong voice. I couldnít help but notice how her voice shook a little.

"Iíll be downstairs in a little bit!" came the cry from upstairs.

My mother started to sit down when all of a sudden we heard a loud bang outside. Time slowed down. The window shattered inward, exploding into a galaxy of glittering sparks that arced through the air. My dad grunted and slumped forward as my mother screamed. I instantly dropped down from my seat and went toward the opening into the kitchen. My mother turned toward my father who had slid off the chair and began to drag him toward the other opening toward the foyer.

When I reached the kitchen, I got up and ran around the counter toward my room down the hall. I reached under my bed right when somebody began to hit our front door with something hard. I took out a matte black shotgun that I had been given for my birthday. I turned toward my study desk right when another pane of glass broke open. I looked up for a split second as I opened the drawer of my desk. The sound came from the foyer. I reached into the desk as somebody began to yell, then more banging came from the foyer as I grabbed the green shells filled with steel buckshot. I loaded 4 rounds and worked the pump as I ran back into the hallway.

I came toward the corner of where the hallway met the foyer right when the door burst open. I looked around the corner and saw my mother clutching my fatherís seemingly lifeless body as she had tried to drag it up the stairs. She raised a hand as one of the men standing at the door raised a handgun and fired. I looked on in fear as my mother fell over my father. The gun in my arms suddenly felt light. One of the men looked toward the hallway as all three of then stepped into the home. Just as he spotted me, I turned the corner and leveled my gun at them.

"Freeze" My voice was as quiet as a cat stalking itís prey, and just as deathly serious.

"What?" asked the man standing slightly off to the right side. Without pause I turned toward him and fired. A softball sized hole opened up where his sternum should be and blew out the back. Even before he hit the floor, the empty hull was ejected and another shell was slammed into the chamber. The man in the middle looked down "Holy shÖ" even before he finished, the left side of his hip disappeared, his still-open mouth filled with his screams. Just as I turned toward the last person he turned to go back out the door. But just as his foot reached the threshold his spine was torn apart by the steel balls. His bodyís momentum carried him out the house and he landed on our porch with a thud.

"Fusatani!"

I turned around quickly and ran toward my dad. "Dad?" I looked at him; I tried to focus on his face instead of his chest. As I kneeled down he grabbed my cuff and dragged me down.

"Listen!" he gurgled as he spoke. "The code, itís 31-37-11!" I looked at him, confused, and he answered before I could ask. "For the safe!" I tried to get up but he dragged me down. "Iím not finished with you. Remember my words, and remember them well. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it!" I turned away. I was embarrassed that I had started to cry. His other hand reached up and spun my chin around to face me. "Iím proud of you, youíre a man now." And with those last words the life that had struggled to stop death from encroaching upon him left his body.

I let him down and looked at my motherís still body. Just then I heard soft crying and looked up at the railing at the top of the stairs to see Hannah weeping.

"We need to leave, Hannah." She nodded and came down the stairs, passing the prone bodies of my parents and came toward me. I motioned her to follow and we passed through the house until we came to the storage room and faced the door to the safe. My hands shook too badly for me to grab the knob on the heavy door. Just before I gave up to slump down on the floor, Hannah grabbed my hands gently and opened the lock with me as I whispered the code.

The door swung open without a creak and both Hannah and I gasped. There were dozens of firearms, but the part that shocked me was the amount of ammunition for each firearm stored in that safe. The metal containers labeled clearly with what ammunition filled the cases. As I stood dumbfounded, Hannah stepped forward and tried to lift one of the ammunition cases. She pulled but the case only moved up about a centimeter before she dropped it.

"Fred, instead of standing there can you lift these?"

I walked forward and lifted one. I gasped from the weight. Then something else clicked in my mind, next to realizing how heavy the ammunition was. Once people realized that three of their comrades were missing, they would come looking of us. "Hannah! Grab the guns and throw them into my car! Iíll take care of the ammunition, when you get done with that, grab my keys. Weíre taking my car!"

Without question, she grabbed the four nearest guns and made her way toward the garage. I picked up the corresponding crates and hobbled toward the door. On my third trip back to the safe I heard yelling from our front door.

"HANNAH! START THE CAR!" I picked up the nearest rifle and crate with my right arm, then with my left arm picked up my shotgun leaning on the doorframe to our storage room. I ran into the garage, threw the guns into the back of the car, slammed the gate shut and jumped into the driverís seat.

My car was a gift from my uncle; it was an old surplus MAV (Medium Attack Vehicle). Of course it was modified for civilian use fifteen years ago when it was released for civilian use. But they only thing that was different was the seats, and the turret was removed. The thing looked like an old school Humvee and Cougar MRAP put together with an overpowered engine crammed under the hood. The weight came in at just under 9200lbs.

As I put the car into reverse, the small door to the garage opened as a man pointed his gun at the car.

"GO!!!" Hannah was practically trying to hide behind the dash as I slammed on the pedal. The powerful I-6 CAT diesel electric roared as we slammed backward through the main garage door. I felt a small bump and muffled screams over the roar of the engine as I spun the car onto the road, put it into drive, and floored it toward the nearest highway. Shots began to ricochet off of the back of the thick steel of the trunk and bumper.

"SON OF A BITCH!" I roared as I looked into the rear-view mirror.

Hannah looked at me from the passenger seat which she had managed to climb into again and fastened her seat belt. She looked back only to quickly turn around as a bullet smashed the rear window.

"YOU ASSHOLE, I SPENT 1200 BUCKS PUTTING THAT IN!!" People vandalizing my car that I had so carefully restored pissed me off to no extent. My vision became blurry as I turned sharply into the onramp of the highway heading into the mountains. The carís tires screeched and the UCVT (Upgraded Continuously Variable Transmission) moaned under the pressure of both electric and diesel engines working at maximum capacity pushing their power into the drive chain. The four cars that had started following me at the house struggled around the turn but quickly caught up. Three were sedans and the last was a small SUV.

As we hit the highway Hannah began to unbuckle. "What are you doing Hannah?"

"Iím going to get back at those people. Tell me how to load one of these."

I looked incredulously at her. "Youíve never shot a gun before!"

She got to the back and looked at the first gun lying on the floor of the cargo compartment. "Iím not going to wait until we get run off the road. Now tell me how to load this one." Her voice shook as she picked up a rifle. I chanced my driving by looking back quickly then turned back toward focusing on the road.

"Thatís a M1 Garand and itís about 110 years old. Look in the metal crate that says .30-06 for M1, it should have its stripper clips already loaded." After a bit of scuffling around and trying to maintain balance as I turned around corners on the highway doing a little over 90mph, she finally opened a crate. "Now pull back the bolt on the right side of the gun and push the clip in with the pointy side facing forward, and the curved side of the clip facing down. BUT DONíTÖ."

Hannah cursed as all of a sudden another bullet came through the window and hit the ceiling of the car. Then she yelped loudly enough to make me jump.

"HANNAH, ARE YOU OK!!??" I yelled as I turned around to look back. But instead of a bullet wound, she was holding her thumb.

"GOD, THAT METAL ROD SNAPPED SHUT ON MY THUMB!!" She snarled giving me what could have been a withering look. Another bullet hit the inside of the car right above Hannahís head, making her focus back on the gun and pursuers.

"NOW WHAT DO I DO, FRED?"

"See the little tab on the front of the trigger? Click that back into the trigger guard until it goes in." Another bullet bounced off of the side of the car. "SHOOT THOSE BASTARDS!"

Hannah complied and looked out the window; I looked up just in time to see a sharp turn coming up for the ramp for the highway into the mountains. As I turned I heard a loud boom and then a ringing noise as Hannah yelped.

"OHMIGOD! MY EARS!" Hannah yelled as I turned onto the highway as it gently sloped into the mountains. I looked back to see her trying to fold back her ears as far as possible. She turned toward where the back window had previously been just as the cars came up the ramp. She lifted the gun again and began plugging away with the remaining seven rounds.

"The gun is broken! It wonít hit anything Fred!" Hannah yelled at me over the roar of the diesel engine.

"Did you line up the sights!?" I yelled as I tried to focus on the sharp turns coming up at the top of the highway as it crested.

"Sights? What the HELL are sights!?" She yelled back as the incessant firing got even more intense as another three cars joined into the chase.

"The little posts! Look through the hole in the back and put the front post in the middle! Then point that at the car!!!" I yelled as we hit the first turn. Hannah tumbled over to the left side of the car then the right as I turned again.

"TRY TO DRIVE SMOOTH FRED!" Hannah yelled as she picked up the rifle again and pointed it out the rear window again.

"Itís really hard with you yelling, the cars shooting at us, and the fact that Iím driving a 9200 pound car on a highway atÖ102mph!!!"

Hannah paused for a second as all of a sudden I heard a series of sharp retorts blast out of the gun. Then I saw a car in my rearview mirror drift off to the side sharply and hit another car. Both of them drove into the granite cliffs onto my right and flipped over. I looked at the GPS console and gasped as I realized that in ten minutes since getting onto the highway, we had driven farther than I had expected. We would be reaching the town where my family owned a cabin within fifteen minutes or so.

"Hannah, we need to get rid of them now!" I tried to yell, but with the wind whistling through the now-broken side and back windows, it was getting harder and harder to communicate. Hannah didnít even look back at me as I contemplated what I could do. I remembered an old movie that I saw with a person slowing down to let the enemy in front of them.

"Oh!" Hannah gasped as I slammed on the e-brake all of a sudden and skidded to below a quarter of my speed. Two compact cars that didnít swerve slammed into the lower back part of my MAV. The compact carís front windshields and half their roofs crumpled in as they hit the steel wall of my rear bumper. I slammed on the gas as the remaining three cars tried to slow down to my speed. One of them tried to slow down like me but lost control, spun sideways and flipped over. I could see four people moving around inside as I sped back up to 80mph.

The MAV slammed its the front steel bumper replacement into the SUV, making the car crumple into half itís width and flipped it off to the side. The remaining two cars had now slowed down to come alongside of me.

"HANNAH, WHERE ARE YOU!!" I screamed as I looked back and realized she wasnít back there.

I gasped as a furry hand clenched around my throat from behind me as I tried to look around.

"You ASS! DONíT EVER DO THAT AGAIN! She growled from behind me as she tried to get up from between the row of seats.

"IÖcanítÖbreathe!" I began to lose control, swerved to the side and hit the car on my left and pushed him into the cement median that had replaced the grass median. The car spun off and stopped as I swerved to the right and hit the one last car. The momentum made him swerve and go into the guard rail hanging over the cliff. The force of the impact shattered the rail as his car tumbled over the edge.

"LetÖ go!" I gasped as blackness began to overtake the edges of my vision. Hannah complied as she tried to squirm out from in-between the front seat and the second row seat. Meanwhile muttering curses under her breath and throwing insults about my driving.

We reached the town which looked to be lying dormant during this time of the night. I slowed down, then turned up a road. After a few minutes of driving, we arrived at a dirt path that went on for another four miles until we finally reached the well-hidden cabin. I turned off the carís systems and hopped out to the ground.

"Donít look at mÖ" Hannah growled as I opened the door behind me.

I quickly tried to look away as she dropped her legs that had been pointed up as she tried to cover up her behind that was facing the door. Unfortunately she had been wearing a grey skirt without any underwear. She continued to struggle in vain. The seats had pinned her behind my seat and the front of the second row seats.

"INSTEAD OF STANDING THERE, HELP ME!"

I had to turn and pull on her legs to get her unstuck from the seats. As she was pulled out, she gasped again as her shirt caught on the metal hooks on the bottom of the seats. She flopped down onto the ground and tried to cover herself as I tried not to stare. This was going to be a long night.

 


Chapter 5

"If you hadnít been driving like a MANIAC, I wouldnít have had to go through that!" Hannah glared at me from the door of the cabin as I unpacked. I silently walked past her carrying a camping pack on my back and two crates of ammunition. I was lost too deep in my thoughts to reply. I had lost my parents, my home, my living.

The next morning came early. I rubbed my face as I looked blankly at the wall as I had been for the whole night. Hannah had gone and lain on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Neither of us had said anything since we had unloaded the gear, each of us lost in the thoughts of what was to come of our future.

The sunlight came and crawled through the room, starting at the floor it slowly moved toward the couch Hannah lay upon. I sat on the stool, focusing on the blade of light moving toward Hannah. Finally it reached her. She didnít move until the sunlight hit her green eyes, making them sparkle for a split second until she moved to an upright position to look at me.

"We need to go grab some supplies, Fred"

"I know," I silently whispered. Of course we had enough packed for the camping trip to last a weekend. But now here we were a secluded cabin, two mouths to feed. And enough guns to supply a dozen troops.

I slowly got up. "Thereís no use in crying over spilt milkÖerÖ blood. Nothing will come of it." I walked toward the door, the wall next to it lined with guns. The handguns were set on the table in the kitchen.

"Hannah, come over here and show me a gun that you like." I motioned toward the guns, my hand sweeping over the entirety of them.

Hannah slowly got up and chose a handgun, all black with a set of walnut colored handgrips on either side of the pistol. It was an S&W 1911. My father loved collecting the older guns. Ever since the stringent gun control laws enacted about five years ago, my father had begun to collect the older guns.

"Whatís this one, Fred?" she asked while holding it up. She looked down the sights and slowly rotated around the room toward me with her finger on the trigger.

"NO!" I lunged out and grabbed the gun from her grip. She backed away, looking as if she had seen a ghost. I turned toward her and hit the mag release. The full magazine slid out with its load of eight hollow-point bullets. I walked over to where Hannah sat and put the mag down on the table in front of her.

"Can you tell me what you did wrong?" I asked gently, Hannah was already looking nervous.

"The gun was loaded?" she asked nervously.

"Yep, and since you had your finger on the trigger, it could have gone off and hit something, like me. Lucky for you, the manual safety was on, so if you had tried to pull the trigger it shouldnít have gone off."

"Iím so sorry Fred." She looked at me ashamed.

"If I didnít know any better, Iíd probably never imagine how you acted last night looking at you," I said with a snicker. Hannah just glared back at me. And so the morning went, me teaching her about gun safety, then how to load, break down, and clean. All that there was to know about the arms around us was learned.

"Now the final question." Hannah groaned at my comment, sheíd been sitting on the couch for at least ten hours answering questions about the guns. "What do you want to use?"

Hannah looked at me incredulously "We wouldnít actually have to use them, would we?

"Last night you used the M1 Garand, didnít you?"

"But that was becauseÖ I guess youíre right." Both Hannah and I remembered the news reports. I all of a sudden got up and walked over to the TV and switched it on. Hannah and I both widened our eyes at the scene that flickered on the one channel that still worked.

"The president is calling this a national state of emergency. We now go to him for his address." The screen flickered to a camera showing the president in a concrete room surrounded by guards.

ĎToday we are here because of an attack on this proud nationís capital. The likes of which were carried out by Gene Projects and their supporters alike. I have called for all remaining troops who are still loyal to this nationís cause to rally; for all armed forces to rally; to crush this threat to our nation, no, our species, to quell this threat and subdue so it becomes a problem no more. All means to destroy this threat are permitted. This is your president speaking, out."

"Well thatís it. In other areas of the world, we are getting reports of similar uprisings, and now we go back to the Grand Canyon where we have more reports of what is happening."

The screen flickered and showed the canyon, now pockmarked with craters and bullet holes. Hannah and I looked on as we watched artillery pieces and bombers dropping their deadly load on the canyon floor. Then the news switched all of a sudden back to the commentator.

"We have another news report of a major uprising in Denver! Gene Projects and human supporters alike have gathered and have presumably taken Denver!"

The screen switched to a UAV image of the city. Hannah and I were shocked to see the city; it had changed into a hell, to say the least, in the space of twelve hours. The buildings were crumbling and some were caved in. Fires raged in the industrial complex as a huge convoy of vehicles, mostly civilian, retreated from the city on one of the major highways. Some stopped to shoot back at a few vehicles following behind at a safe distance.

I moved my hand to the power button and looked at Hannah.

She looked back and replied. "Can I choose my gun now?" Without even waiting, she reached forward and picked up the handgun she had pointed around earlier. She lifted it up, slid the magazine in and racked the slide. She then got up and reached for the M1 Garand and slung it over her shoulder. "How are we on supplies, how much more do we need?"

"We donít have enough, and weíre going to need a lot more if this world is going the way I think it is," I said as I stepped forward, unpacked my bag, grabbed a holster and threw it to Hannah. She clipped the gun into it and put it around her waist. She had changed into loose pants the night we arrived after giving me a malevolent look. She now also wore a light shirt.

I turned toward the wall and looked at the guns. I slowly walked over to the one that I was given for my graduation from high school. I picked up the old M24 SWS and opened the magazine catch. I loaded the gun with the .338 Lapua rounds it was chambered for. I then turned and walked toward the table. There was a myriad of handguns lying there. I looked at the guns as Hannah took ammunition for the M1 Garand. I picked up a gun that was hidden from sight under a bag that had been handed down for generations, the gun with which my grandfather took down a charging bull elephant. The gun that my father kept in the darkest recesses of the safe. The only reason I grabbed it was because it was my familyís history.

"What is that THING?" Hannah yelped as she saw the revolver I was holding.

"What? Never seen a manly manís "put hair on your chest" gun?" I said as I spun the cylinder. I paused and looked at her straight in the eye. "This here is my grandpaís S&W .500 magnum. It saved him when an elephant didnít die quick enough and charged him on a hunting trip."

Hannah simply stared as her mouth hung agape. "You might want to shut your mouth before a fly gets in there," I said as I picked up the one holster that could hold the gun. Then I strapped on the nearly empty backpack. It only had a flashlight, extra ammunition, and lastly some food. I turned to Hannah who had a similar backpack and had started out the door. All of a sudden she froze as I walked out and closed the door.

Shots could be heard from down in the valley where the town was nestled. The pine trees blocked the view and the sun would set in about three hours. I continued walking toward the car as Hannah stood.

"Well, at least youíll be happy to know weíre better prepared than before, Hannah." I jumped into the MAV and started the car which brought Hannah back to her senses as she ran toward the passenger side and jumped in after throwing all her gear in first.

As we drove toward the town, this time at a more leisurely pace than the trip up to the cabin, I rolled down the widows and switched the car into silent running mode, shutting off the diesel motor and running only on electric. The car chase yesterday had left the batteries full, so we could go to Denver and back if we felt like it and only use a quarter of the charge.

The noise from the gunshots rebounded off the canyon walls as we drove down the road farther toward the town, making it hard to tell what direction, or place in the town the shooting was coming from.

The town was nestled in a big valley in between several mountains. With different, smaller valleys, like the one we drove in on now feeding into it. The highway that divided the town was a major artery of the area, bringing goods and such through from the west coast to the east coast and vice-versa.

As we exited the valley and closed in on the town, we heard the sharp sound of automatic fire from near the center of the town. I slowed down the MAV, rolled up the windows and drove it into a culvert on the side of the road under a stand of pine trees. I jumped out and crouched, as did Hannah. The automatic fire was still continuing, and then stopped. I counted at least 40 seconds of fire. I looked at Hannah who just shrugged and grabbed the M1 Garand and backpack and put it on.

"OK, letís figure out whatís where, and then after weíre sure of what we need, weíll come back for the MAV and drive to the locations we found supplies at to pick-up stuff. Oh, we need to be very quiet, just stay behind me and stay low. When I raise my hand that means stop, the rest youíll figure out as we go," I whispered as we walked toward the side of a building and looked around the corner down the street. I almost turned back in shock; the buildings were riddled with bullet holes. And there were people. I looked back Ė no, furs. They hung from light posts, their bodies swinging from the breeze. I stared and felt something beside me as Hannah looked.

She crumpled and I caught her, almost dropping my rifle from my shoulder. She was trying to stifle her sobs as I turned to carry her back to the MAV. Then she planted her feet firmly on the ground and pushed away at me, almost making me lose my balance.

"NO!" she yelled as I got up and tried to hush her. "Weíre going to find the bastards who did this and kill them!" she hissed, her green eyes alive with a flame Iíd never seen before. I nodded mutely and walked past her.

The sun slowly set, throwing the valley into a shadow. I looked down at my watch as we worked our way down a narrow street. We had grabbed food, radios, and some medical boxes, and flashlights as we worked toward the town hall, Hannah had suggested that we grab some maps and blueprints. Every now and then we would hear shots ring out, but nobody was to be seen. We continued our silent trek; we began to get within sight of town hall as Hannah tried not to breathe too hard from the exertion of carrying that M1 Garand.

I turned to look at her, "I guess I should have told you how heavy that gun isÖ"

"DUCK!!" Hannah screamed as she hefted her gun up and fired, the muzzle of the gun going off right next to my ear as I dropped to the ground, right when a bullet slammed into the wall next to me.

I reached out and pulled Hannah down as automatic fire opened up and hit the wall and ground next to us; I wrapped my arms around Hannah and rolled into the alleyway to the left of the two of us. I got up and turned toward the slightly adjacent door as the fire continued, Hannah followed me inside and tried to follow me up the stairs.

"No! Stay here and watch the door. Iím going to see where and who they are!" I turned and rushed up the stairs of the small shop we had entered. The upstairs room facing the street was ransacked as I entered and crouched at the wall opposing the window. I raised the M24 and sighted through the scope. Slowly looking at where the fire had come from.

"Bingo!" I whispered as I saw a group of humans standing near the town hall. They were standing next to a pile ofÖ.

"Oh god," I sighed as the sight struck me. Bodies of furs were piled up on the garden of the town hall. Riddled with bullets, fox morphs, wolf morphs, humans, rabbitÖ I tore away my gaze. The scope snapped back to the head of the man holding the machinegun that had done the deed. He was firing it blindly at the base of the alleyway.

The bullet whizzed through the air as I squeezed the trigger. The shell slammed into the manís unprotected head. The neck snapped back as the force of the impact blew out the back third of his head, spreading gore all over the white marble tiles on the ground behind him. The machinegun stopped abruptly as his comrades looked down at him, startled that they were being met by resistance. The next man simply slumped over sideways over his dead ex-machine gunner as the bullet met his ribcage and tore apart his lungs and heart. The last two men turned to leave as they realized they were being watched. Just then Hannah started firing from the alleyway, three of the seven rounds hitting the men as she fired.

I got up and looked up and down the street from within the room, trying to discern any more threats. Hannah came up the stairs as I whipped around.

"I canít see anybody," she whispered quietly as she neared the window, and turned as she saw the mass genocide on the lawn of the town hall. Tears filled her eyes as she came to sit beside me in the room.

"I think we both need to rest," I said as I sat next to her in the corner of somebodyís old bedroom. I switched on the short-wave radio and flicked through the channels quietly.

The radio whispered as the time slowly passed. I was the first to move. Both Hannah and I had been crying and sleeping intermittently. All of a sudden I tensed; something was different about the atmosphere outside.

"Crap! Hannah! Hannah!" I shook Hannah awake. She looked at me blearily. Tears still matted her fur. "Be very quiet; there are people outside." Hannah looked up at me with a startled look in her eyes. Without a sound, she lifted her gun to reload it. "No donít use that, the action is going to make too much noise."

We both drew our handguns and looked out. There was a truck parked just a few yards up from the house and people were looking into the windows. "Hey, you see anybody here?" asked one man holding a rifle.

"Nah, but somebody had to kill the postmaster back there. Keep looking around, the fire had to come from somewhere around here." The men moved closer to our building.

Hannah got up and quietly walked with me to the first floor. My heart was beating so loud I could hardly hear anything else. We walked to the back of the shop and pushed gently on the door. "Fred, the door Ė can you try opening it?" Hannah whispered as I looked at the storefront windows. The men were moving closer. The light was getting dimmer with the setting sun. I turned.

"Watch the front." I walked toward the door and pushed; it wouldnít budge.

"Fred, hurry up! I think somebody is coming in!" Hannah whispered. I pushed harder and harder on the door. All of the sudden the door popped open and slammed into the wall next to it making a loud bang.

"HEY! Did you hear that?"

"Yeah! It came from over there. Go and shoot whatever you find unless itís one of our guys!" A gun cocked and we heard running from the alley.

I pushed Hannah behind a dumpster with a shove, she almost tripped but I wasnít going to let her die, not here, not now. I hefted the S&W 500 just as the first man ran around the corner. The shot took him by surprise, the length of the dark alleyway lit up for a second as a thunderclap shot out of my gun. The recoil was the one thing I hadnít expected, the gun flew up and I only held it with one hand as I staggered back. The manís body, what was left of it, had flew back a few feet. The other men paused in shock in the alleyway; their running had ceased.

"RUN!" I yelled, but Hannah was far ahead of me, running toward another building. She got behind a heavy piece of concrete wall jutting out into the alley and spun around, this time with the M1 Garand at the ready pointing down the alleyway past me. I jumped beside her just as bullets whizzed past.

"Shit!" I looked around, my rifle was nowhere. Then, just past Hannah, I saw it. Lying in the dirt of the alleyÖ in the open. I patted Hannahís back as I moved past her. She looked at me, then my gun, and slammed her body back into mine as she realized what I was doing. Stars exploded in front of my eyes, my head had hit the concrete wall behind me.

"No! Youíre not going to die, Fred!" Hannah yelled over the noise of the return fire we were getting. Man, these people were well armed.

"I know Iím not," I yelled as I grabbed the cuff of her shirt and hefted her beside me next to the concrete wall as I jumped forwards, using the opposite reaction of me pushing her body to allow me to get some extra speed out toward my rifle. Just as I jumped out, I heard a bullet ping across the alleyway, something hit my foot and spun the boot off. I grabbed my rifle and rolled behind a small corner that barely concealed me across from Hannah. I stood to try and allow the wall to protect my body better, as bullets came inches from hitting me. The flying projectiles made popping sounds as it flew past. They were using heavy caliber bullets that were going supersonic. Not good.

Hannah peeked around and yelped back as a bullet took out a chink of concrete right in front of her face.

"YOU furs are gonna DIE!" roared a man. The firing stopped for a second as he yelled.

I spun out with my gun at the ready just as the man yelled, a shot impacting his gut as I simply pointed and shot. I crossed to Hannahís side and kneeled, and aimed this time. Since the bullets had stopped flying from them when the man had yelled, I had enough time to fire back. The next bullet entered the left temple of the second manís head. His head snapped back like the first man as he fell backwards.

Hannah ran toward the end of the alleyway with me close behind after I picked up my boot. I made sure that nothing fell to the ground. Right before we got to the end of the alleyway though, a truck screeched to a stop blocking our escape. Hannah spun to the right and dove into an open door just as I ducked behind a dumpster on the left directly across from the door.

"THEREíS NOWHERE TO HIDE!" yelled one man from the truck as he got out. I peeked around the corner to look at the truck no more than 25feet away, but a bullet impacted the edge of the steel box, making me jump back.

The footsteps slowly neared us as Hannah looked at me with fear in her eyes from the back of the room in the doorway with her gun at the ready. If she missed the man when he got to the door the bullet could hit me. I shuddered at the thought. Hannah sat there, oblivious to the fact that the muzzle was right above my head. Then the man stopped.

"Put your guns down and come out; no funny stuff." And just to add emphasis, we heard another gun, a shotgun being cocked. I slipped off everything, but just before I got up, I put a flashlight we had taken from a store in my pocket, and slipped the S&W 500 behind my pants.

"There we go, now whereís the other one? Eh?" the man said with a sneer as I got up slowly from behind the dumpster. I just looked at him, the man mustíve had a very voracious and unhealthy diet, not to mention he wouldíve looked pretty comical with the tights and tank-top he was wearing, had he not been carrying a shotgun and a rifle.

Hannah started to get up from her spot in the building, and the man looked over to the doorway for a split-second. I took my chance and jammed one hand in the jacket pocket and the other in the back of my pants; just as he looked back I whipped up the light and flicked it on.

"What thÖ" I dropped the light, just as he put his hands up and dropped the shotgun to cover his face. I crumpled both hands into a tight grip on the S&W 500 and fired, this time the recoil not bothering me as much. But still enough to rock me back.

Hannah jumped out and we both ran toward a building behind us that we had passed.

"Crap! The rear door is locked!" I yelled to Hannah.

We couldíve gone to another building but instead I leveled my M24 at the doorknob and stepped back, and Hannah did likewise, but kept her gun at the ready. The doorknob shattered as I fired and I kicked the door open drawing my S&W 500 out.

"Oh damn," I sighed as I realized what we had broken into. Gun cases lined the walls in a room beyond as I looked around the back of the gun store. My elation soon died as I reached the front of the store.

"No wonder they had all those guns." Hannah whispered, making me jump. I hadnít realized she had followed me this closely. The front of the store was ravaged, ammunition and guns torn from the shelves. All that was left was glass on the floor and some equipment on the shelves. But even those were sparse. Only some hunter orange clothing scattered about on the shelves.

"Letís see what we can grab, and carry for now before the people, if there are any left, come back looking for whatís left," I said, my voice fighting with me as I tried to whisper with limited success, my heavy breathing hampering my efforts.

I looked around the front of the store as Hannah retreated to the back, only finding some boxes of ammunition, too heavy to move and a secure set of locks on them. Then as she moved on toward the door that connected the two rooms, Hannah stumbled over a case.

"Fred, is this a gun case?" Hannah asked, turning toward me as I made my way back over the broken glass from the counter.

"Yeah, it looks like it. Big enough to hold two guns per case also," I said as I reached the back room, looking at the case that had slid out from under a work bench. I grabbed the catch holding the case closed and popped the first one off. The second, third, and fourth soon popped off as I slid the case out from below the bench all the way.

"What the crap? Itís just a barrel and some big ass shells." Hannah exclaimed as I flipped open the case.

I sighed, "So much for finding something useful in this place, but this would be a big gun if we had the actionÖ." I trailed off, realizing why there were two identical cases.

"Hannah can you open the other case?" I asked. She complied, probably realizing what was going on at the same time I did.

Nothing needed to be said as she opened the second case, the action of the gun lying inside. Five shells, 20mm I guess, lay off to the side, an enormous scope mounted on top. I lifted the barrel with itís bipod up from the first case and brought it next to the action.

"DAMN, that must be at least six feet long!" Hannah whispered as I held the barrel. I turned and picked up a shell and looked at the bottom it.

"20mm. Hannah, this thing has shells that can take down aircraft." I barely breathed out. Hannah just stared incredulously at the gun. I placed the barrel in its case and shut both of them, but not before taking out a key set in one of them. I turned toward the ammunition crates in the side of the room.

"Iíve got a pretty good guess about what those are," I said as I neared one of them. The lock snapped open and I removed the lid. 20mm shells lay on their side Ė hundreds of them. Whomever was willing to buy all of this mustíve had a lot of money to throw around, I thought.

"Fred, itís getting dark outside," Hannah mentioned as I fastened the lid on the case. No way were we going to make it back to the MAV in the dark. It would be harder to spot anything if we ran into anyone. Then I recalled the truck the man had blocked us into the alley with.

"Hey Hannah, give me a hand with the cases." I picked up the 20mm ammunition crates as Hannah picked up one of the gun cases. As I walked out the back of the store I noticed the stench, the smell of congealing blood permeated the air. We walked toward the truck, avoiding what was left of the man who blocked us in.

I threw the cases in the bed of the truck and Hannah did likewise with the case and her pack. We went and retrieved the last of the ammunition and the other half of the gun before we went into the cab of the truck.

The truck started up with a small hum, the electric motor barely making a sound. "Where do you want to stay, Hannah?" I asked as I thought of a easily defendable area. I didnít feel comfortable driving around the town much, so we needed somewhere close that we could defend if need be.

Hannah didnít say a thing as we sat there, an awkward silence filling the car. Finally I put the car into drive and turned it around to face the town hall down the street, the bodies making an eerie hill in the middle of the lawn, the shadows casting ragged dark edges around the quickly darkening square.

"What are you doing?" Hannah asked with surprise as I drove the truck onto the lawn of the town hall and up the stairs of the Hall. I parked the truck sideways to the glass door entrance.

"Weíre going to sleep in the Town Hall tonight. Find somewhere comfortable and be on the ready. Just in caseÖ and take the new gun with you, Iíll catch up to you later." Hannah obliged as I dug around my backpack. Finally I found the fire starter stick and lighter, and walked toward the lawn of the Town Hall and set it at the base of the hill. I stepped back and watched the flames engulf the hill. I looked at the place where the four people had stood earlier that day. Their guns were still there. One was a machine gun, an old one but still kept in good working order, where did they get a hold of one? The others were various civilian arms. I picked them all up and threw them in the fire, I would not use these weapons tainted in morph and human blood, and neither would the enemy.

I turned away, the stench from the burning bodies overpowering my senses. I jogged back into the Town Hall. Some of the lights in the building were still working, but flickering and buzzing inconsistently. I could hear something shuffling in the end of the hallway, and guessing it was Hannah. I followed my ears. I neared a dark room and the shuffling stopped.

"Hannah?" I whispered and put my hand on the doorframe.

A shadow flew at me from within the dark room, knocking him back and into the opposite wall in the hallway. As I struggled, the creature tried to get a grip on my flailing fists. Then all of a sudden the shadow lunged forward, its mouth agape, going for my throat. I tried to roll over, but only succeeded in putting his left shoulder in the way, stopping the advance on my life. Letting the fangs sink into my shoulder. I yelled and the creature tried to stifle me.

"FREEZE OR DIE!" Hannah yelled from not ten feet away. Her M1 Garand pointed at the base of the creatureís skull. The creature, no, a wolf morph slowly backed away against the opposite wall. As soon as it relinquished its grip, I leant my sore head against the wall next to me.

"Who are you?" Hannah said, her rifle still pointed at the wolf morph. The wolf just looked back, glaring at her but keeping his mouth shut.

"Nice puncture wounds you gave me." I shifted myself further upright, from my leaning position. Blood smeared the wall behind me. "Hannah, can you go grab my pack from the truck? Itís got medical supplies in it."

"WHAT? Iím not leaving you alone here with him!" she exclaimed, giving the wolf morph a dirty stare. Luckily she hadnít seen the blood on the wall behind me, only the rip in my shirt.

"Donít worry, heís not doing anything or going anywhere." I unholstered my S&W 500, setting it on the floor next to my hand.

"No Iím not going to leave you alone here with him!" Hannah repeated, still holding the gun at the ready.

I leaned forward, toward the morph and Hannah looked my way and saw the blood behind me on the wall. "Hannah, just trust me and grab the medical kit, Iím going to start bleeding more once these wounds relax and start opening up more," I said, trying to calm my voice.

Hannah turned and left and I turned toward the grayish colored wolf. He had his head in his hands and was looking down now.

"So, whatís youíre name?" I asked, holstering my weapon, and facin him.

"Cloud," he replied, his voice barely a whisper. He looked back at me with my wrists resting on my knees. ĎWhat makes you think that I wonít attack and kill you?"

I looked at him, and smiled. "The fact that even if you attack me, Hannah, the one who was pointing a gun at you will probably be back soon and she probably wonít hesitate to fire. And the fact that you look like you can be trusted." I looked at my shoulder. "Even after you tried to bite my head off."

"Sorry. Itís just, OH GOD THEY KILLED THEM!" He started to sob into his hands.

I rolled onto my knees and pivoted around and sat beside him. "Hey, itís alright man. Thereís no more of those extremists around."

He stopped for a second and looked at me. "How does that change the fact that my family is gone? How does it change the fact that Iím the only morph in this town alive? Does killing the enemy make them come back? Does killing them or knowing about their deaths make you feel any better?"

I sighed, but before I could say anything, Hannah returned and dropped the pack at my feet.

"Youíre alive for a reason. I canít tell you what, but you didnít die because you have some unfinished work on this planet at war."

Hannah sat down in front of me and opened the pack, and got out the disinfectant sealant spray and read the directions. She spoke up as she undid the safety seal. "Just remember them as they were, honor their memory. Never forget them, but let go of them." She finished off the sentence as she began to cut the clothing covering my wounds.

Cloud just stared at the far wall, seemingly in deep thought. He sighed and looked back at Hannah. "Thereís something I need to do before I can let go of them." He looked nervous as he said the last words.

"Well, letís get back to the room Hannah chose before I get a sore back." I stood up as Hannah capped the spray. I turned toward Cloud and put my hand out. "My names Fusatani, but just call me Fred, in case you havenít figured that out already. And this is Hannah, as you already know."

Cloud latched onto my hand and pulled himself up. "Nice to meet you, Fred, and you too, I guess, Hannah," he said with a small smirk as she picked up her pack and gun. As he got upÖ no, floated up, his fur was playing with the light refraction.

"Hey, your fur Ė itísÖ is that natural?" I asked him with a quizzical look. Hannah turned around to see what I was talking about.

"Oh, yeah. When I was born, I was like this, or so Iím told. People say when I walk, it looks like Iím floating around. Thatís how I got my name," he said with a small smile.

"I like it," I replied.

"Yeah, so do I," Hannah added. She was apparently thinking about how that worked, but before she could do anything I spoke up.

"Okay, which room did you choose, Hannah?"

"Just follow me; itís not that far at all."

As we walked back toward the opposite side of the Town Hall, I tested out the sealant by rolling my shoulder. It held. Oh, the miracles of modern medicine, I thought to myself, remembering how spray seal worked. The mixture would only harden when it contacted skin, disinfecting the wound, and killing most of the basic bacteria and viruses. The mixture made a flexible, clear seal over the wound, staying almost as strong as skin. But even with all that to help me, it was going to leave me sore tomorrow. I grimaced as I imagined the pain. At least it would pass in time.

 


To be continued.

Story and Characters are copyright © 2008 G.F.D.

Chakat universe is copyright of Bernard Doove.


 

Link: Return to the Forest Tales main page.

 

Link: Return to the Chakat's DenTM main page.