Hands (pt 6)

“Now we’re trapped,” Mi said.

Jahan smiled, confused. “We’re free.”

They shook their head. “Never to leave the city again? If the war gave us one thing, it was the ability to leave.”

Smile gone, Jahan looked long suffering. As if Mi forced him in a corner. “We’re safe now. Don’t tell me you wanted it to go on.”

“I don’t want to see more blood.”

Mi spoke the truth, but avoided outright telling him they wanted the war to end. The soldiers recovered and then returned to their practice. Practice within the practice grounds. Practice on the ground.

Hands (pt 2)

Jahan made a strangled noise in his throat. “Standing. You shouldn’t be here.”

Looking up, eyes sharp, Mi did their best not to sound as harsh as their expression. “Everyone returned. Didn’t need a scout after all?”

“We were lucky,” Jahan said. “And I scouted.”

They doubted it. Jahan couldn’t scout to save his life. But if everyone returned, he obviously scouted well enough to save the life of everyone else in the unit. Mi looked past him. Their unit moved passed and the crowd either followed or returned to their lives.

“You shouldn’t be up.”

Mi looked at Jahan’s hands, ignoring his words. He bound his hands, as they needed on the field, in fresh linen. Not drenched in red and dried in brown, like the others. Their uniform, red without the brown. Their uniform, the occasional leaf stuck within its folds. “You really scouted.” They mouthed the words, rather than speak them aloud.

Jahan didn’t answer. He took them by the arm and forced them back to the hospital. Jahan was fast, but kept himself at a slower pace for Mi’s sake. Mi didn’t need him to, didn’t know why he did this. As they didn’t want to return however, they didn’t speed up. They reached out with their left hand to try to pull him off. For some reason they couldn’t, wrist resting on his arm.

Hands (pt 1)

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artwork by ケLV

They commanded attention, leaving spectators breathless in their presence. Mi didn’t expect anything less. Dressed all in red, the crowd could still see the stains of the blood on them. Somehow, despite having returned from battle, despite the blood of their enemies and of their friends upon them, they all stood tall. Not as though they had suffered a heavy loss.

Mi dipped their head down before Jahan could see them. They shouldn’t have bothered. Their red cloak stood out in the cooler colours worn by the rest of the crowd. Jahan would break formation, they know. They shouldn’t have come, not right now.

“What are you doing?”

They stared at their boots, instead of looking up to see how many people Jahan pushed aside. The crowd had moved, giving them space. Mi’s boots looked the same as ever. They had only managed to pull on the boots and put on the cloak. The rest of their outfit was not the same uniform. “Standing in support.”

Their helmets shone gold

The attack party blocked the way into the nothingness, waiting for the moment he approached.

Their helmets shone gold, shaped as skulls that completely covered their domes. Silver scaled bucklers that attached to each of their forearms blocked all of their torsos completely. Thick robes to keep out the sands hung down in lavenders and midnight blues down to leather boots.

The scimitars in their other hands did not gleam. They were already dull. Filthy, but not with fresh blood. With old blood. Old blood with no time to clean it off before reaching this location.

They were to attack, but waited at their point of arrival as he came to stop them.

He stood no chance.

Reflection on a simple thought

If it weren’t for a whim, they would have been in the city when the soldiers came.

“If you three are going to roughhouse, you’ll do so in the field.”

The eldest looked put out, but the two younger boys looked ecstatic. Their sister smoothed out her vest. “We’ll behave, won’t-”

“Field! Field!” The boys ran outside.

She gave me a look and made up my mind. I needed a moment to myself. “Watch your brothers.

Little would I know that decision saved all three of them.

Paranoia

She clambered up the side of the crates, knife between their teeth. Her sheathe had fallen off earlier and she wasn’t sure when that had happened. Probably the guy who’d just betrayed her. That’s why his blood was on it. It tasted terrible. When she had a free hand, she would spit it out. Unless that would leave too much evidence of her passage. Maybe it would be better to swallow, if just to get it out of her mouth.

Was there a trail that she left? Bloody footprints, from the foot that had lost its boot? It could be hurt, there had been a cut, she remembered that. Not that she felt it. Not anymore.

Hunkering down at the top of the crates, she glared down at the soldiers beneath. When had they first come after her? What had she done? Absolutely nothing. Their search pattern was thorough, but they had yet to look up here. They would find her eventually though. She could not stay up here. With body flat to the metal, she skittered to the far side and looked up to the catwalks. She hid under while a soldier passed. After she would climb up and then… could she move past? Or would she have to take them out? Probably. It was either them or her.

As soon as the footsteps had distanced, she scrambled back up. Once there, she looked back to see the trail she had left behind. Her heart pounded in her throat and it took everything for her not to breath loudly, air hissing past the knife.

“Ma’am? Are… are you all right?”

She stabbed him before he could call out for reinforcements. With a clenched stomach, she dragged the body along, keeping as much of the blood from the metal floor. At least she could take these boots. At least she had that.