|Enemy Mine Series
|The Last Enemy
The Last Enemy
3rd Book of the Enemy Mine trilogy
by Barry B. Longyear
Miati Ki hides in the rubble above us at the lip of the dry stream bed. I see only its right boot and the top of its energy pack. The sun is hot and the heat radiating from the desert sand and boulders flails my face and steals my breath. Only the dense humidity remembers that this was once a jungle. There are no birds, no flowers, no trees. Everything beautiful and gentle that once flew or grew here left this part of the Shorda countless lives ago. Still, the stinging greenflies have survived. They will outlive us all.
Pina is eating the last of its share of the rations we captured. As it took its share of the rations, Pina made a joke, holding it to its lips. "This is the fruit of the Irrveden, for which the Mavedah fought, that we eat at the second repast."
I laughed with the others at the words of the repast ceremony, from times when there were formal repasts, tables, and food. Back before any of us were born. When I was very young, before my parent's death, Yazi Avo would recite the ceremony at meals, when there were meals. I laughed, but Pina's joke made me want to cry. I think of taking a bite of my remaining ration bar, but the flavor of the thing makes me think of some kind of alien excrement. Vikaan crap or Timan turds, which makes me laugh inside. I don't know if Timans have turds. I've never seen a Timan. The last of them left Amadeen before the quarantine. There are a few Vikaans, though. Some fight for the Mavedah, some fight for the humans, which is why no one trusts them.
I hold to my ear the little receiver I keep in my pocket. Its screen is broken, but it still produces audio. The Mavedah station at Mijii Heights still sends, which means the eastern flank of the Front's invasion of the Shorda is still stalled. The music is that rapid effervescent confusion of human and Drac folk sounds we call zidydrac and the humans call mancho. The recording was made before the war. I scan for the Amadeen Front's mobile station, or one of the others. Sometimes I can get the Black October station, but not today. Nothing new supporting the rumors of another attempt at a truce. Even if a truce should take place it would be only a matter of days before The Rose, Black October, or some other uncontrollable faction of the Front violates it, throwing us all back into war. Still, there would be a day, possibly more, without death.
Ki's hand makes signs to us. First the fist, one finger pointed down, then all three fingers together followed by a fist. Chaki Anta is back.
There had been an explosion at the bunker. We all heard it, saw the smoke and dust carried by the wind over the lake. Qat Juniki told us about it before it died. A human had come out of the bunker, his hands above his head, and Chaki Anta took the man's surrender. The human's hands were held as fists. "I saw the wire," said Juniki. "I told the man to open his hands before he came any closer. I told him in English. I told him again. When he opened them, the world vanished."
A walking bomb with a dead man's switch. Making it so a corpse can murder. Such a human way of killing. Juniki thought Chaki Anta had been killed, but now Anta is back. As I turn off the receiver I am relieved. Anta is an old fighter, a survivor of many raids and battles. It helps me to know that not all of us must die in this war. My relief is mixed with dread, for when Anta comes back, the killing and dying resume. Anta walks with death. Perhaps that is how it has acquired immunity.
We will soon move into a fight. No one says any of this but it is in everyone's eyes. My companions swallow the last of their ration bars. I see Pina take a touch of happy paste with its tongue. Its eyes close as the drug spins Pina away on a transitory cloud of peace, safety, and joy. I look at my ration bar and wonder why food is so scarce but happy paste is everywhere. In the end we will probably die of malnutrition within the mist of a spittle dream. I put the remains of my ration bar in my pocket.
We looted the ration bars from the humans, but most of them are good to eat. They are viyapi rations the humans looted from the Mavedah. Some of the human rations are good, too. I like the containers of fruit and the candy bars, but they are rare. There is something in plastic envelopes called scrambled eggs and ham that even the humans refuse to eat. For that reason, of course, scrambled eggs and ham are all that they have left. Their rations, like ours, are left over from the war.
Chaki Anta slides and stumbles down the dust of the stream bank, followed by Ki. Anta's face is deep ochre, an old scar along the left side of its forehead. Although our commander smiles with its mouth, its deep yellow eyes betray all of the dead they have seen. Anta nods as it points toward the east with its battered energy knife. "Only a few left in that bunker at the foot of the bluff. I heard firing coming from inside. They were not shooting at me or at anything outside the bunker." Its brow climbs in an expression of hopeful possibility. "I think they were fighting among themselves." His cold smile becomes a cold grin. "We will get Taaka Liok a present and end the them this time." Chaki Anta's eyes narrow. "We are the Twelve."
"The Front Twelve," we mutter back more out of habit than pride. Our youthful eagerness drowned in oceans of blood years ago, buying presents for Taaka Liok with our blood. My whole life in the Mavedah has been spent serving at the pleasure of this mysterious warmaster, who in turn serves at the pleasure of the Denvedah Diea.
I glance down at the helmet in my hands. It carries on its once sand-red surface the scars of thirty years of death. Only five of those years are mine. The sensors and readout still work, but the voice link is scratchy. I can do without the voice link. Hand signals are silent, instant, clear, and do not send out electro-magnetic pulses for eager sensor probes to pick up. Besides, I prefer to dedicate my hearing to my immediate surroundings. That is where the threats to my life lie.
The helmet is military issue, of the Tsien Denvedah back in the war. The names of seven Mavedah soldiers are scratched in the surface exposing the dull brown fiber beneath.
We all know the stories of the great hero Ritan Vey, once second warmaster of the Tsien Denve of the Ninth Shordan, conqueror of New Aetheria. Only a few of us remember Enot Fal. Fal's first day after training saw it crushed beneath the treads of an Amadeen Front tank in the attack on Stokes Crossing in the Southern Shorda. I had no helmet of my own, so I claimed Fal's.
I wonder who will get the helmet after I am gone. It is irrational of me, but I am afraid to scratch my own name into this pathetic monument. Besides, the seven names already there are burden enough to carry.
We are the Front Twelve, Anta had told us long ago. Tsien Siay. The pride of the Okori Sikov. There are only five of us left now. Ragged, tired, and thin from meager rations. We were twelve at the beginning of the battle six days ago. When the last of us falls, perhaps there will be another twelve to replace us. Children, ancients, and fools. Onward marches the grand Mavedah. I slip my shoulders into the straps of my energy pack and adjust the piece of plastic foam between the pack and the small of my back to ease the chafing. Something I learned from a dead human.
I glance sideways to see if my few remaining comrades somehow detect the treason that echoes in my thoughts. Anta is positioning its energy knife in the harsh sunlight to absorb that last bit of light before we go. Miati Ki is strapping on its equipment, most of which was salvaged from dead Amadeen Front soldiers.
It is not like we are ammonia-sucking Timans, or some kind of snake thing from another quadrant. How can Dracs be thought so different from humans, yet we are so alike? We can use the same weapons, wear the same rags, eat the same food, scratch at the same rashes and slap at the same parasites. After decades of close horror, we even speak each other’s language. But, breathing the same air -- that is something that demands death.
Varo Pina and Skis Adoveyna are waiting for the order, their eyes tired and yellow, staring at the top of the bank. I can see that Pina already sees its own death. I want to touch it's hand, to tell Pina that we will survive, but my friend would reject my words. My friend Varo Pina knows it must die. It has talked about nothing else for days. I think it wants to get done with the experience. "I am calm about death," Pina once said to me. "Waiting for death is the strain."
Once, in the dust of memory, Pina and I loved. Neither of us conceived. The humans have us there. If a Drac is certain it will be dead or otherwise unable to care for its young, it cannot conceive. To humans, though, the prospect of death and deprivation seems to drive them into a rutting frenzy. We are told that it is a primitive survival mechanism to preserve the species. They also live longer than Dracs, barring traumatic intervention.
I no longer have those feelings for Pina, and Pina has no feelings left for me. I wonder if any of us have any feelings left for anything beside killing and survival.
Without speaking, Chaki Anta puts on its helmet and signals Miati Ki and me to take the front. I do not hesitate. Instead I take my energy knife, climb the bank, reach the lip, and begin crawling through the rubble, checking automatically for remote sensors and probes. It has been a long time since any of us saw a working remote or probe, but we stay cautious. Assuming they are all down or destroyed seems to jinx them into existence. There are still scanners and missiles. Humans also have eyes and those big ears.
I note the position of the sun. By the time we reach the bunker it will be behind us, burning our backs but glaring into the eyes of the humans.
"Yazi Ro," the voice link scratches into my ear membrane. "Keep moving."
My head is filled with so many minds, but my body follows Anta's orders as though it has its own will. I crawl from behind the broken wall, around a pile of still smoking wreckage, until I reach the body of one of the Twelve's fallen. A primitive projectile caught the Drac beneath its left eye. The back of its head is missing exposing an ochre goo that was once a brain.
What do you leave behind, comrade?
Did you have someone who loved you?
Does anyone care how you died? that you died? for what you died?
Does anyone remember your name? It shames me, but I cannot.
What did you die for, my nameless comrade? If I meet my own death this moment, I am at a loss to say for what I died. I am an automation; a creature that responds to orders. Perhaps I die for glorious habit.
There must be a grander way than that to record me in my line's archives, if they still exist. The language Dracon, however, is suited more to facts than fantasy. There are few ways to express an event except with truth. To spin dreams of misdirection the language English was designed. Here lies Yazi Ro, dead because it couldn't go no mo.' Pooped, perhaps, from a penchant for proclivity.
Yazi Avo, my parent, taught me my English. Avo once said that if there is ever to be peace, we must first talk. I laugh at this now. All either species knows how to do with words is to wound. My parent had a crippled foot, mangled in an Amadeen Front raid when it was not even half a year old.
I look at the body of my comrade. The young one, barely an adult, was given to the Twelve just before the battle to fill out our number. Young, but a good soldier, nevertheless. I saw its knife take down at least three humans before the bullet found its mark. Dead bodies: it should be a strange way to measure occupational proficiency, but that it is not.
Two paces beyond the nameless Drac is another body, a nameless Vikaan, who must have been dead for quite awhile. Tall and thin with its huge eye sockets eaten empty by desert creatures grateful for the moisture. I cannot tell if the Vikaan is male or female. It's skin is swollen and black, the nostrils and the wounds crusted with thirsty greenflies, their swollen iridescent bodies like so many droplets of jade.
Vikaans turn black when they lie in the sun for a few days. The odor is beyond description. Vikaans usually remain neutral or throw in with the Mavedah, but this one fought for the humans. I wonder why, but the Vikaan is not telling any secrets. I make a wide path around it. To the Vikaan's side I see the white flash of an anksnake beneath the body, out of the direct sun, feeding on the corpse's guts. They only go for decaying flesh, the anksnakes, so I am in no danger. It might have startled me, though. Had I cried out, or raised up, or used my weapon, that would have been the end for all of us. But I do not draw attention to myself and must pay attention to the instant.
Again I face the bunker, the odor of old death on me. The bunker is an ugly fire-blackened shelter of poured stone. It has rounded corners, gun ports, and a huge hole blasted into its left front. To the right of the hole a deep red rose is painted, the sign of the Amadeen Front. The three remaining weapon ports are spaced evenly to the right of the hole. Between the bunker and my position is a field of rubble. I see a dark shape just for an instant. It runs from in front of the bunker to a position among some rocks part way up the bluff. I am not certain, but more than one human seems to be there.
I glance to my left and wait until I catch a glimpse of Ki forty paces away. Ki turns its head toward me for a moment and I raise my hand and point. Ki looks forward, sees the rocks, and nods. It begins bearing toward the left and the rocks, while I continue toward the bunker.
So many times have I faced death. After the effort and sacrifice there will still be more humans to kill, more comrades to watch die, more fire to burn, more things to destroy. The bunker ahead of me is part of a village that exchanged hands four times this year alone. How many hundreds or thousands of lives has this ruined heap of debris cost? I cannot even guess. For what reason? It sits astride a road crossing that has surfaces impossible to traverse by wheeled and tracked vehicles that no longer function.
My knee strikes a small rock which clatters into a larger rock. I freeze. Motionless, no breathing, willing my heart to quit its pounding. I am almost afraid to move my eyes for the notice their motion might draw. Still my gaze quickly searches the ground between me and the bunker. Broken walls, rubble, twisted towers of metal. I can see nothing threatening.
The pebble had not made a loud noise, but if the humans have a listening post out or a sensor buried nearby, the noise would be loud enough. Without looking at it, my right hand steals down the length of my weapon one finger's breadth at a time. It reaches the power switch and I energize my knife. Neither the switch nor the weapon powering up make a sound, but I can feel the power pulse. I am grateful I took advantage of the time in the sun waiting for Anta's return to add to the charge. The touch gauge shows seventy three percent.
My voice link crackles in my ear, startling me. It is Miati Ki reporting to Chaki Anta. "Anta," Ki whispers to the old fighter. "There are four of them in those rocks behind and to the left of the bunker. Their field of fire covers almost all of the ground in front of Yazi Ro." The words, once I allow myself to understand them, make my skin writhe.
Another crackle, then Chaki Anta's voice. "Ki, have they seen you?"
"No, but they see Yazi Ro. They are staring at Ro this moment, weapons trained. I think they wait to see the rest of us before they open fire."
"What weapons?" asks Anta.
"Two rifles and a captured energy knife. I cannot see what the fourth has."
"Stay in place, Ki," answers Anta. "I'm coming up on your left with Pina and Adoveyna."
By the breath of a kiz, I am fisher's bait! I fight down the urge to bolt and run. It seems insane. When the battle started there were hundreds in this sector. Now it has come down to four humans and five Dracs? Is this when I die, when it is all but over?
"Stay in place, Ro," comes Anta's voice. "Give no sign that you are aware of the humans in the rocks."
"As you order, Anta." Fine words from my leader and a terribly brave response, but I have already given a sign by signaling Ki. How do I take that back? Perhaps no human saw it. Or if one of them did, perhaps that one mistook my gesture for something else. "Look, the Drac is saying hello."
A mind in fear takes comfort where it may.
I swallow against the moisture in my mouth. Human mouths grow dry with fear. Dracs fairly drool. I occupy my mind trying to figure out which is worse. To drool or not to drool, that is the question.
My grip on my weapon has my fingers aching, but I cannot relax them in fear of the movement. I need to void. I know it is only the fear and I force the feeling away. Only the urge to void goes. The fear remains.
There is no more communication on the voice link. With patience that threatens to tear my neck muscles, I turn my head so very slowly to my left, my eyes straining to see around the left frame of my visor. It takes forever, but once more I can see where Ki had been concealed. Instead of Ki, however, there is Pina. It is crawling very rapidly toward the rocks. Anta must have already passed. Adoveyna follows Pina without a pause. Will they take down the humans before the humans become impatient waiting for me to make my move? It is said that some humans pray to gods. I feel the lack.
My view of Adoveyna is lost as it crawls behind some rubble. I slowly turn my head to face the bunker but I stop as I see something above and far behind where I lost sight of Skis Adoveyna. The small hill is little more than a support for shattered stumps and the remains of a few smashed dwellings, a thin smoky mist rendering everything in shades of gray. Earlier in the day the rise had been roasted and pulverized. Still, there was something that shouldn't be. A fifth human? More? Had I seen a piece of wire or cloth waving in the slight breeze? A stray beam of light reflected from ---
"Anta," I whisper into the voice link. "Anta, to your far left, up on that hill, I saw movement."
"Where?" it asks, but before I can answer, the kow-kow sounds of a human rifle shatters the silence. The sounds are soon joined by Pina screaming into the link and the humans in the rocks opening up with the energy knife, the broad swath of its blade coming right toward me. Someone screams, "Kill them!"
Quickly I roll until a large block of cut stone is between me and the knife, still giving the humans on the hill a view of me. Two of Anta's remaining knives fire at the rocks beneath the bluff while the third fires irregularly at the hill. I turn, place my back against the stone block, aim my own blade toward the hill, and press the trigger. I feel the tremendous energy pulses as they warm my hands. When I am certain the humans are at least down, I jump up and turn to run toward the bunker. A deafening explosion erupts in front of me, blinding me for a moment, filling my lungs with choking dust and gasses.
Before I open my eyes or check to see if I have all of my limbs, I realize that the fourth human in the rocks has a missile launcher. My eyes open and the sky above is gray with dust and smoke, cut with the green glowing blades of energy knives and the white streaks of pulse weapons. As the deadly silence ends, returning my hearing to me, the feeling comes back to my body. The first of it is a skull-cracking pain in my head, a stinging tingle all across my skin. I cautiously lift my hands to feel my head, grateful to find that it is still covered by my helmet. I sit up, then kneel as I pick up my weapon. It is still charged and operative.
Without thinking, I climb to my feet and spring forward, the breath coming hard in my lungs as I braid my way among the broken stones and twisted metal. A loud kang sound from a piece of metal near my head catches me by surprise and I recoil from it, roll to my left, and come up aiming my blade at the bunker. There are two, no five flashes from the dark opening. The ground around me erupts with geysers of stone dust as shattered bits of metal buzz around me. An energy flash from behind comes close enough to sear the flesh on my left shoulder. There is at least one more human with a knife. I throw myself into a slight depression, whirl about, and fire my knife at the hill once more. Twice, three times, and I see my blade catch an energy pack. There is a blinding blue light, then nothing but a steaming hole in the ground.
There doesn't seem to be anyone left firing from the rocks or the hill and I roll to my right, jump up, and wash the bunker opening with my knife. After I release the trigger, I squat behind some wreckage and check the hill as I touch the knife's charge indicator. Still nothing on the hill and my weapon is at forty-nine percent. I glance a little more to the right, and look at the rocks. They are black where before they were reddish tan. I see no movement. "Anta?" I call into my voice link. There is nothing but static.
"Anta? Ki? Pina? Adoveyna?" I get to my feet and try again.
"Tsien Siay, report!"
They cannot all be dead. We have been at this far too long, endured too many things. If the human demons that spawned this hell have any sense of justice, all of the Twelve cannot be dead.
With my chin I switch the sensor in my helmet to read thermal input. Looking at my visor I see a bright orange place on the hill where I laid on my blade causing the human's energy pack to go up. There is another bright orange place among the rocks where the second knife was. When it went up, the four humans went with it. Below the rocks there is a dimming orange dot, the cooling body of a dead human. In the rubble field below, where my comrades were hiding, there are another four orange dots, dimming, as the heat leaves their bodies. Before feelings crush me, I remind myself that the lack of an exploded energy pack sign means that in all probability, their knives still work. I must disable them before I leave.
I am alone.
For a moment I am confused about what to do. Should I rage and throw myself into the monster's mouth to avenge my dead comrades? Do I cower in terror, hoping that no one will notice me? Do I surrender and trust to the good intentions of the Amadeen Front? Do I simply abandon this place, go back to Lurack and say, "Mission accomplished, Ovjeta. Everything is dead."
--- I hear a sound from the bunker and I whirl around, my knife at the ready. The heat sensor shows two beings dead in the ragged opening. Further inside are at least six older dead and deep inside are two hot live ones, very close together. I realize I am standing in full view of the bunker, and I squat down, amazed that I am alive.
Perhaps the two humans who are alive are wounded. For some reason they didn't take me out when they could. I want to call Anta's name again, see the bodies of my comrades with my own eyes. I rebel at relying on a mere instrument to tell me my comrades are dead. But what would be the purpose? Then, what was ever the purpose of any of it? How can a being tremble in fear of losing its life one moment and care not a dot the next?
I stand in full view of the bunker, my weapon held at my side, and walk toward the opening, hardly curious at the form my death will take. At the opening I step over the lip of the hole torn in the wall and walk in. I pause inside and look around.
It is still. After six days of battle, there is something obscene about so much silence. It allows too many things to be felt. They stand before me in a row: fear, sadness, outrage, emptiness, and hate. Indifference and a terrible tiredness. How I long to rest my head upon my parent's lap and beg Yazi Avo to quiet the buzzing in my brain.
I take a breath; exhale. Another. It is not the moment before; that moment when I had living friends and living enemies. It is not the moment to come, when whatever it is that I must do has already been done. It is this moment. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to remember something comforting --- something perhaps even useful --- from the Talman.
How little of the book I know. My parent tried to teach me, but it was killed by the Front long before I completed my first year. I keep the golden cube of my parent's Talman suspended from a chain around my neck, but I rarely read it. After all, it was the masters of the Talman Kovah who proved that this war cannot end. No adulthood rites, no presentation before the family archives, not for Yazi Ro. Not for any of us condemned to Amadeen. As Tora Soam put its cursed name on that treaty with the humans ending the big war, our talma was to be sealed for eternity into hell.
Two humans are dead on the dusty cement floor at my feet. The older of the two caught the slice of my energy knife through the upper right quadrant of his head. The younger one is almost a child the way humans reckon such things. She was cut in two through the chest.
Two more corpses upon a mountain of dead.
There is a golden pendent on a golden chain around the neck of the young one. I expect it to be a cross, that sign of the human prince of peace worshipped by many of these killers. I see, instead, the cube of a Talman taken from some dead or captured Drac.
My rage paints everything in reds and blinding whites. Instinctively I touch the trigger on my knife and watch as her head rolls free from her torso. I take the chain from the stump of her neck and look at the cube. It carries a line sign, but I do not recognize it.
I look around inside the concrete and steel structure. Nothing but the mounts remain of the crew served weapons that had been bolted to the floor. There are scraps of cloth hanging over the weapon ports. Human curtains. They are made from the tan, white, and red camouflage cloth the humans use. There are chairs very similar to Drac chairs, and a table very similar to the one I ate from before my parent, my siblings, and my home were destroyed so very long ago. The inside is blackened and chipped from weapons firing.
I am numb from fatigue and from the pains in my head. I wonder how many human homes and lives I have destroyed. Some things are beyond counting.
Something strange about the scene makes me pause. The chipping took place after the fire. The blackening is from burning, probably long ago during another fight. The chipping is caused by bullets. The Twelve had no rifles. The rifle fire had to have come from inside. Anta had said the humans might be fighting among themselves. Perhaps that is why so many of them were not in the bunker when we attacked.
I take another deep breath, and as I do so I vaguely remember the sensor. I look at it again and the orange dots are now larger, the walls of the bunker reflecting warm from the sun and the energy weapons. Two of the humans are still alive, and the only thing to be served on Amadeen is death.
Against the back of the firing gallery is a room. In it are six of the human beds, raised on legs, and draped with cloths. Three of the beds have bodies tossed across them. Three more bodies are crumpled on the floor near them. The ones on the beds carry knife wounds, the slashes and dismemberment unmistakable. The ones on the floor carry bullet wounds.
Another room to the left off the gallery is for food preparation. Nothing alive in there. The ones alive are hiding beneath the bed on the far right. Above the bed is a torn and faded poster proclaiming the natural wonders of the planet Vikaan, and urging the vacationer to travel there by a spaceline symbolized by a the letters SA. Perhaps this was the Vikaan's bed.
I place my weapon between my knees and hold it while I remove my helmet. The room smells foul, the human blood sickeningly sweet. Cement dust is in the air causing light filtering through cracks in the bunker to make dustbeams. The place is filled with greenflies, already feasting upon the pools of red human blood. Strange how the insects have an equal affinity for yellow Drac blood.
The Talman says that only form changes, nothing ever dies. It looks like a lot of death to me.
I look at the bed beneath which the two humans are hiding. There is a rifle on the tattered sheets, the stock shattered. The readout on my sensor shows one of the humans to be too small to be an adult. Of course, there are also very small humans called dwarfs and midgets who are just as deadly. Still, one of them might be a child.
Prisoners? By the bloody book, why burden myself with prisoners? It is so much less complicated if they simply die. Would they take me prisoner, or would they render me into muck and thank their bloody gods?
Perhaps they will, instead, kill me. It is time to ride the monster.
I hook my helmet onto my weapons belt. Holding my knife in my right hand, I place my left beneath the end of the bed. "Now is when you must kill me," I whisper.
I flip the bed over and bring my knife up to bear. All I can see is a single form. A human female from what I can see of her back. She is curled into a lump. She is not armed. "Get up," I order in English. "Get up, human, and face me."
She doesn't comply. Instead she shakes her head back and forth, a human sign of resistance. "Get up," I repeat.
I reach down to grab her shoulder, my knife pointing at her head. Just before I touch her, I hear a baby cry.
So easy to have a soft heart.
So easy to say, here is a parent and child. Take pity, Ro. What has a mere baby done to you? Have mercy.
How many Dracs have had their wombs ripped open, their barely formed children dangled by their umbilicals before the still living eyes of their parents? How many humans have smashed the heads of how many Drac children upon rocks and exchanged money bets upon how far the brains splash?
With all of my strength I grab her shoulder and throw her onto her back, her baby still clutched in her arms. I lift my knife to cut them both in two, then I see the baby. It is a Drac baby only a few days old.
The woman's eyes stare at my face. Tears make her eyes glitter in the half dark. She knows she is about to die. She knows the baby is about to die. "Please," she whimpers. "Please."
What about the dead, I want to ask her. What about all of the dead? And how did you acquire a Drac infant, woman? Whose womb did you slit? Filthy, hairy, foul smelling thing, what right do you have to ask pity from me?
I say none of it. I gesture toward the infant with my knife and say something very stupid. "It is not human."
She shakes her head. "No," she answers. "It's mine."
I lower myself until I am sitting cross-legged on the floor, my knife across my knees. A howl begins from inside me, from deep beneath the core of my soul. It expands until it fills every crack and crevice of my being. When the pressure is more than mere will can contain, it explodes from my mouth. A bellow, a scream, a cry.I cry for them, the human female and the abandoned Drac infant. I cry for the Twelve, for my parent and siblings. I cry for the Planet Amadeen, and for one of its many weary soldiers, Yazi Ro. . . .
Also included in
The Enemy Papers
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