Monday, August 10, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Seven: Come hither

Blue was feeling unhappy with her lot in life. And she figured that she had every right to the emotion, given her current circumstances.

“Hey,” a voice said to Blue’s left. A small hand - compared to hers, anyway - tugged on her arm. “Hey. Do you have anything to eat?”

Blue turned, eyes blinking heavily from a lack of sleep. A skinny Non soldier was standing beside her, more or less eclipsed by her bulk. She could’ve crushed him with a single stomp, and, as always, she briefly considered doing so. Something in her always strayed to morbidity when she considered just how tiny everyone else was compared to her. But, no, she wouldn’t be doing anything of the sort, if for no other reason that she’d have to clean the gook off of her foot afterward.

“No,” she replied, a little tersely. “Go try the quartermaster.”

“I tried the damned quartermaster,” the Non grumbled. He swayed from one side to the other, looking very much to Blue like a zombie. “He’s got nuthin’. Everybody’s got nuthin’.”

Blue shook her head. “I think we’re attacking another city soon. Maybe they’ll have more food. Suck it up.”

The Non sneered, but he didn’t say anything else. Moments later he was shambling away, off to tug on the arms of other Non. Blue knew none of them would have the food he wanted, and she knew they were all just as hungry. Hunger was not something that happened to Non very often, and so the entire column tromping along around Blue was especially ornery.

Despite her fervent desire to quit the Non army and do something else, anything else, Blue was still moving with her oil-slick comrades through a barren hellhole of a land. When the time had come to properly flee, in the midst of the last big battle against the Imperium, Blue had nevertheless returned to her people, forsaking a perfectly good opportunity to get the hell out of the war - and away from her old boss. She couldn’t quite remember why she’d failed to flee, or even what she’d done during the fight. It was, like hunger, a failure of memory that seemed to be rather common among the Non, though most of them refused to talk about it.

Blue sighed. What did it matter? Each battle was more or less the same as the last. The terror and thrill of fighting was just as mundane as the constant walking tours to the next battlefield. Kierkegaard’s campaign had become a meandering, pointless orgy of destruction, and no one - not even the great general / admiral / emperor / whatever himself - seemed to know what they were doing. Blue wondered how long it would take before Non started deserting… and she further wondered if any had already fled, taking on different forms and opting for a more comfortable, peaceful life somewhere else.

Surely they had.

So why hadn’t she?

The army - or Blue’s section of it, anyway - crested a series of rocky hills, and soon Blue was staring at a wide lake surrounded by trees. The Non near her began to chatter excitedly to one another, apparently anticipating a chance to jump in the water and relax in the shade for a while. The heat of the summer sun was merciless enough to forge a deep desire to splash about for half an hour. Blue could tell by their angle of approach that the army would not be going anywhere near the lake, however, and as her fellow Non slowly came to the same conclusion the moody silence of the column reaffirmed itself. Blue forced herself to look at anything but the lake, and she eventually settled for the horizon. The bland, flat, unending horizon.

I would like, Blue thought, ignoring the pain in her weary feet, a house. A big house, where I can put my feet up on a chair and rest for a while. With a chimney. And a fence out front. And a well out back for drawing water. Maybe I could have a few neighbours. They’d probably have smaller houses, so I could feel especially proud of mine whenever I looked out the window. I would live in a small community, because I don’t like cities that much, ’n I’d be… I dunno… maybe a writer. Writers make decent money, don’t they? Maybe I could get into theatre - 

Blue’s musings ended abruptly when someone tugged on her arm. Flinched out of her walking trance, she glared down to one side, ready to snap at whomever was bothering her. The image of a home of her own was compelling enough to crush her already foul mood when it disappeared. She opened her mouth -

- and snapped it shut when she got a good look at the creature staring up at her. It was, or probably had been, some kind of badger, though it was swollen to at least three times its normal height. Standing on two bloated legs, its uneven limbs rippling with muscles and 
pulsing veins, the badger regarded her with bright yellow eyes, its pupils reduced to tiny black pinpricks. It grinned at her with a muzzle that was not made for grinning.

“The master would like to see you,” the badger hissed, its voice an oozy, unnatural rattle. “His tent is one the edge of the main column. Go now.”

Blue grimaced, pulling away from the badger’s touch. More and more of these weird aberrations had been sneaking into the army of late, serving largely as couriers and scouts. Blue knew where they’d come from - she’d seen some of the first of their number, almost two months prior, as well as their source - and she was surprised one hadn’t come for her ’til now. She’d expected a messenger almost a week ago.

“I’m busy,” Blue grunted, looking back to the horizon. “I’ll see him in a bit.”

“You’re walking,” the badger pointed out. “Kara thinks you can also walk towards the master’s tent. And you can walk faster.”

“I bet I can.” Blue waved a hand. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Tell Emmett - “

But the badger was already gone, disappearing back into the crowds of Non soldiers. Blue couldn’t see the creature… but she could see the Non parting to let it pass as it skittered along the ground on all fours. Whether it was pushing its way through or the soldiers were disgusted enough by its presence to want to get the hell out of its way of their own accord, Blue couldn’t tell.

Blue swallowed. Emmett had tasked her with fetching Dragomir’s wife as a test subject, a goal she hadn’t even come close to completing. She’d spent the last little while doing her best to avoid him, hoping his pet project would have been enough to distract him from her existence. He was single-minded enough that forgetting her was a possibility. She had not lucked out this time, though, and she knew that would be to her eternal detriment.

Maybe, Blue thought, picking up the pace a little, I can ‘trip’ and fall on him. Maybe.

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