The Second Chapter
Even the legacies of the greatest heroes fade, fables and epics written of their noble deeds will eventually slip away from the minds of later generations, but the villain, he is never forgotten. As long as there is history, his name is recounted with bitterness and hatred, even by those who have eluded his spear by ten thousand years. – Facinus the Besieger
The humans of another Earth had fallen to a mostly alien force, but those humans who held the reins of power elsewhere struggled with campaigns of their own. Humans had long since fled from their home world and into regions of space their ancestors could only gaze up at from the bosom of Mother Earth. So long had her children been away, that many had begun to take on new genetic features. The Arbaronians with their long, lean bodies and vividly colored hair made humans from Earth and Mars seem rather dull in appearance. There was also the Glebula, round faced, freckled humans who were only slighter smaller in stature than those from Earth, but were undersized compared to the Arbaronians. Then the Homosoliums, who lorded over all the others as the ruling class, they were the first who pushed for the colonization of planets beyond Earth’s solar system. Bioengineered for much longer life spans and increased cognitive ability, the Homosoliums planted stakes in hundreds of worlds across the galaxy. Though their numbers were few, their wealth and influence enabled them to hold power over the entire human race.
Presently, many of the Homosolium families were entangled in a territorial dispute over a belt of asteroids that ran between several of their estates. The Nobles ruling this sector had been at war for some time, pitting Duke Simria Cascade and his Golden Fossas against Margravine Hema ‘the Beautiful Beast’ Crocotta and the Widow’s Retort. Margravine Crocotta was the widow of Margrave Würgegriff von Brachland. After his defeat in the battle of the Burning Orchids, the noblewoman quickly assembled an army composed of what was now the majority gender, women, all of whom had lost someone in the previous bloodshed. One of these women was an Arbaronian named Fawna, a sergeant apart of the 203rd Heavy Infantry Brigade, led by her aunt, Brigadier General Cari Rein. Fawn and her fire team were temporarily stationed in the barracks at Fort Willing until a transport arrived to ship their brigade to the front.
Fawn schlepped from the showers with her grimy towel slung over her beige, freckled shoulder and her toothbrush hanging from her lips, her wet pink hair ran down her back and over her headdress, a hearing aid and communications device. ‘Crowns’ were what they were most commonly referred as, but their enemies without these elaborate contraptions had dubbed them antlers and horns. A strange birth defect had stolen the hearing of the descendants of everyone who had ever stepped foot on Arbaro. There existed a booming industry for the devices, because there was no cure for the mutation, or protection from it. As always, humans adapted and thrived, for the planet was rich in seemingly every natural resource humans could find a use for.
However, because of the planet’s natural wealth and disputes about its discovery, Arbaro and that of its surrounding neighbors were constantly at war with one another. The Cascade family did not even recognize Arbaro as its name, but Curaya. Wars like the one presently being waged had been common for centuries; with every side extracting what they could from the planet before being rousted by a new noble’s army.
Fawn eyed the smaller girls running past her through the hall; she had dreaded her entire time here in the barracks as it was full of little girls pretending to be soldiers while they waited for their surgeries. ‘Closing the gap’ it was called, a highly invasive procedure that placed a woman’s muscle growth on par with a man of the same height and weight, in rare cases much greater. Fawn watched a bandaged girl limp across the hall into room full of similarly wrapped girls; it reminded her of her own surgery many years ago. She remembered being in pain for weeks before her muscles began to grow, as if the muscle tore itself; filling out her lengthy Arbaronian frame, eventually her joints and the rest of her bones had caught up, with help from supplements and a few fortifying surgeries.
Knowing little about the mechanics of the surgery itself a much younger Fawn had consented, as well as her parents, but what choice did they have? Being the eldest child of engineers that had given so much to the war effort would surely keep Fawn out of combat, and it had, for a while, but there was a drive, an urge that Fawn could never explain that seemed to be pushing its way out of her. It would be irresponsible to label this feeling as rage or anger, though many would only see it as such, for this was no emotion at all, but perhaps a warning, a signal, possibly describing to humans the next step in their evolution. Or maybe the ever indifferent goddess with her radical children, wanted them to rediscover their true selves.
She turned the corner and crouched down as she grabbed her military ID and scanned it across the dark rectangle embedded into the door frame, all without removing it from her neck. The door slid open, and her fire team barely turned away from what they were doing. Fawn tossed her towel on the back of a chair and plopped down on her blanketed rack. Lechwe, a purple headed, skinny Arbaronian was braiding the hair of her teammate, Chital a chubby cheeked and stout, Glebula, both were sitting on the floor watching some old movie Fawn could not name, but knew the ending to it. Flechette, also a Glebula, was on the top rack performing maintenance on her E.P. Rifle, the Penny Black; a weapon that dwarfed her tiny frame. She was small even for a Glebula, her hair, the color of soot, ran to the backs of her knees.
“I can’t believe they let you up here with that,” Fawn said, having carried the burdensome weapon many times before, she felt she had the right to complain. A weapon that large with only a single actuator to balance the weight-to-muscle ratio was teetering on sadistic. What had Mom been thinking, Fawn thought, but many of her parents’ creations had been rushed into production. Almost as if the government knew the demise of her loved ones was closing in. Still, it was a good rifle, far too much kill a man with, turning him into a brief, red-rain shower that would wet several of his surviving buddies. It’s true purpose, however, was busting up mobile armored units and heavily armored officers riding brick-trucks they thought would keep them safe.
“The firing pin’s not in,” Flechette said. She opened a bottle of foul smelling CLP, gun oil. She dipped the thin brush inside and knocked the excess off on the rim of the container. Had all the women not been so grossly accustomed to the stench, they would have spoken up and demanded she take her work elsewhere.
“That stinks,” a young girl at the door said.
Fawn growled from her rack. “You stink,” Fawn said. She sat up quickly and slammed her fist against the door release; the girl was gone before she did so.
“Fuckin’ kids,” Fawn said. Now up, Fawn began to dress in a slightly wrinkled working uniform; gray, black and white boxes covered the garment to blend them with the urban environments they had been fighting in. With how the war was going, only the most squared away soldiers gave care of uniform standards. There were no tears in her garments and her boots were blackened, but far from shiny and that was good enough for her.
Lechwe looked up from her work doing Chital’s hair. “You want your hair braided?” Lechwe said.
“When I get back,” Fawn said.
“Where you goin?” Lechwe said.
“Get some stuff. Maybe a drink,” Fawn said.
“Bring us something to eat,” Lechwe said.
“Come with me.” Fawn said, slinging on her field jacket, a Velcro name tape read ‘Dearborne’ across her breast.
“We got duty.” Chital said her scarred fists were supporting her chin.
Fawn laughed. “Like you never skipped out before.” Fawn said.
“Can’t have the brats see us shirking.” Chital said.
“Alright,” Fawn said, adjusting her jacket. With her tall and broad dimensions, nothing ever fit right unless it had been tailored, either too big or too short.
“You want a bowl?” Lechwe said.
“Yeah,” Chital said.
“Just get us a bowl from Rena’s.” Lechwe said.
“Alright,” Fawn said.
“Chicken…and…?” Lechwe said.
“Beef,” Chital said.
“You wanna come with, Flech?” Fawn said.
“You know I’m never a willing participant in your drunken antics,” Flechette said.
“That was forever ago,” Fawn said. “And I’m not going to get drunk.”
Flechette said nothing and continued to maintenance her high caliber rifle. Fawn quickly slipped into the hall and fished through her pockets for her beret. What she retrieved was a crumpled brown rag; she slammed it in on her head between her antlers before making her way downstairs. Fawn’s crown unit was an elaborate one, along with shiny trimming and ornate crafting, each earpiece was nearly two feet long, it served in getting the best signal as she was the tallest in her division, but also to act as an amplifier to all the rest of those on the network in her vicinity, a walking phone tower.
The girls on watch straightened their backs when Fawn hopped from the stairs. She walked slowly across the quarterdeck, ducking under their nation’s and Army’s flag, pretending to inspect each girl as she passed; then made her way to the door. She enjoyed teasing the younger girls, especially since they asked so many inane questions, and their fear was delicious.
“Um, Sergeant Dearborne?” The lead girl on watch said, her beret was directly on top of her head, and not slanted how most veteran women wore their own.
“What?” Fawn said, narrowing her purple eyes.
“You might want to zip your jacket up,” The girl said.
“Why’s that recruit?” Fawn said, leaning halfway out of the door.
“It’s cold out.” The girl said.
“Not because it’ll be your ass if I walk out like this?” Fawn said. She could see the barracks chief from the corner of her eye; her huge head poking out of her office. The recruit that had addressed Fawn was shaking slightly. Fawn stepped back inside and zipped up her jacket. She approached the girl at the podium and leaned over to check her penmanship on the log. Fawn pursed her lips and pulled a damp pack of gum from her pocket; she snatched one and offered the girl the pack.
“We can’t chew gum on watch, Sergeant,” She said. Fawn nodded; then shoved the pack of gum in the girl’s pocket.
“For later then,” Fawn said, but she continued to hold her gaze.
“Yes, Sergeant?” She said.
“I know it sucks having people yell at you, tell you what to do all day. But once you’re done here and you’re out in the field, you’ll wish there was some loud bitch holding your hand. Hmm?” Fawn said, raising an eyebrow as she scanned all three girls . They all nodded slowly. Fawn knocked on the podium and lazily saluted the flag next to it; then plodded out into the wet haze that had taken over the day; the cold quickly embraced her mercilessly, as a man would shake the hand of another he disliked on first meeting.
She sniffed then hopped down the short steps and walked with a quick pace towards the bus stop. Walking down the hill the complex of barracks sat on, Fawn could see the boarded windows of shops that had closed down when the war started. Paint stripped apartments and townhomes stood before the olive colored hills surrounding the base, all crowned with a gray melting slush. This area had probably been filled with many families before, military families, most likely. Looking at the war from afar, many would think that the constant fighting and resource grabbing was foolish, look how it had decimated the population, especially that of the younger men, multiple generations dead, so many that women would have to finish the battle that their men had started.
Some thought it was a good thing, this war, thinning out the men, the war would end they thought, when fewer and fewer of the boys would come home. But this only made the fire burn brighter and hotter, for the resources and land gained were just a perk; revenge seemed to be the goal, a goal that every woman fighting found a noble one. There was no need for buildings to house the prisoners; nor guards to watch over them. Genocide was a word that had been forgotten, its entry in the dictionary made indecipherable by tears.
With her hands shoved deep in her pockets and her eyes to the sunless gray sky, Fawn wondered if this planet would ever be free from strife without both sides ending each other. The sickness of Mutually Assured Destruction had gripped her when a faceless admiral had decided to snatch away her family, her youngest brother and parents perished when the research facility they were assigned to was deemed in play by the Fossas armada. Everyone watched live as a civilian organization was turned into space debris with a single volley from the Fossas’ flag ship. It only made it harder when her brother Alpha went MIA a year after. She knew her brother must have been alive somewhere, in her mind, Alpha did not have it in him to simply desert his duty; he was a volunteer after all. But many other men, possibly better men, had run, not wanting to be used up completely, before they lost a limb, lost their mind or worse.
The bus pulled up just as Fawn was about to sit down on the weathered bench, she climbed on, scanned her ID at the terminal and sat in the back of the empty bus. She fumbled around with her handheld accessory to her antlers, thumbing through the horde of messages she had received, mostly from those in her squad and friends she met throughout her travels, always hoping to see one from her brother. She came upon a five month old message from a man she had a fling with long before she made sergeant, just after her officer’s commission had been withdrawn. Each time she looked it over she thought the worst, messages nearly every other day, then finally, nothing. She sighed and shoved the device back into her pocket, threw her hood on, and nuzzled against the wall of the bus.
When the bus made one of its few stops Fawn hopped off onto the wet sidewalk and strode up the near empty street to a pub she frequented. Inside was warm, dark and smoky, some uninspired jazz tune was leaking from the tattered speakers randomly sprinkled throughout the bar. Fawn snatched off her beret and shoved it into her back pocket, so that it could be reunited with the deep creases and wrinkles it had found before. She unzipped her jacket as she rolled up to the bar, on her left, an old beat up pool table, on her right were mostly empty booths, stiff and stained cushions prolapsed from old tears in the ragged brown leather. Crusty yellow propaganda posters with curled corners seemed to be peeling themselves away from the dingy soot covered walls, each one framed by a ratty von Brachland flag.
There were three drunks in the corner laughing a little too hard at a mildly amusing quip. Fawn ignored them and plopped down at the bar, which had been shellacked with varnish far too many times several years ago. An old grizzled bartender nodded and hobbled from the stool he was sitting on in the back, between barrels that could only have found use as decoration. With his sleeveless shirt and cutoff shorts he seemed to be proudly displaying his war wounds, artificial knees and a cybernetic shoulder, all paid for most likely, but grossly out of date. He was only up briefly to throw Fawn a beer and then returned to his stool. There were bottle openers embedded underneath the bottom of the bar, in two swift motions it was open, she let the cap fall into the reservoir beneath her feet. Fawn exhaled and then sipped on the cool brown bottle, trying to pay attention to some silly game show that she could never figure out the rules too. The three in the corner laughed louder, pulling her focus away yet again. She looked over to them and then pulled out her antler’s handset, turning the volume down on hear earpieces, and then thumbing through the news that was carefully filtered and tardily sent out to them. On the display a message popped up from Lechwe, her avatar was a basket of puppies and for some reason it hurt Fawn’s heart a little to look at, but where would I keep one, she thought, it was tough just holding on to General Issue. She opened the message and it was a picture of the food her and Chital had asked for; the women had faith in Fawn when it came to any threat not concerning hunger.
Suddenly, Fawn smelled stale breath and cigarettes, she turned to her right to find a weaving, stubbly faced man leaning on the bar just beside her. He was an oval faced, weak-chinned slob who looked as though he was in a constant battle with his own stupidity. Normally, his looks would be about average, but the male-to-female ratio was grossly out of order, and Fawn guessed the man would be particularly gassed up in his position. She bothered herself to turn the sound up on her earpieces, though she knew already what would drop out of his mouth.
He smiled crookedly, his red eyes were barely open and his shirt looked as though he had not bothered to snap a few wrinkles loose before throwing it on. Fawn looked over to his friends waiting in the booth; they beckoned to her, cigarettes between their fingers, wafting their arms slowly as if they were directing traffic. She looked back to the man who had invaded her bubble of uninfluenced-sovereignty without a word.
“We got room,” he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder casually.
“I’m good right here,” Fawn said; turning back to her beer, pressing the cold bottle against her lips as the man paused to think of something say, she could almost hear the man’s mind work.
“C’mon,” he said, swaying on his heels and then the sides of his boots.
“Alright, what am I gonna do over there that I can’t do over here?” She said, staring him down as she watched his mind work.
“I don’t know. Have fun?” he said, body shifting, throwing back awkward glances to his friends.
“What if I don’t like fun?” she said, turning to him and crossing her arms.
“Well, you’re a woman…” He said.
Fawn nodded. “Ok.” she said.
“And I man…” he said.
“You might be.” she said.
“Hey, what’s your problem lady? You don’t like guys?” he said.
“I love men. Love to hug ‘em and fuck ‘em,” she said loudly.
The man leaned in closer. “Well, alright,” he said. Fawn stopped him with a stiff arm.
“Don’t fuck cowards though,” she said. The stupid grin on the man’s face went missing as he glared at her in disbelief. He started to say something and then turned away slowly, beginning the long, embarrassing walk back to the booth his friends were partying in. Fawn watched him halfway to make sure he was actually leaving and then turned back to the show she had no interest in. She shook her head when she thought of the state of her people, the men that were left, the common ones anyway were mostly like the man that had approached her, or the old barkeep. They had sent their best to die, and now what was left seemed not worth defending from the claws of the Fossas. She had heard of programs being started to save the men, getting them out of conscription to work in jobs to support the war effort as women had done for their men in the great wars on Earth so long ago. The government required all men to have a sample of their sperm frozen, though everyone had to have known they threw most of it away. It was too great of an opportunity, a eugenics program without the messiness of sterilizing the undesirables, perhaps the Übermensch was in sight.
Fawn knew that the man’s friends were glaring at her, hating her because she would have nothing to do with their pathetic little party. She anticipated some trouble and ordered a few shots in case she needed her fists especially tight and numb, but soon the little group was once again stricken with fits of backslapping and obnoxious laughter. Though the atmosphere has lost most of its tension it had only seeped into Fawn’s muscles, tightening her hold on her beer.
Several beers and a couple of shots later Fawn was on the street again, finished with her errands and heading up the street to buy her friends some late dinner. The wet and chilly air forced her to zip her jacket up to her collar. She could see the lights of the little food truck and hoped there would not be a long line when she got there, just now feeling the effects of hunger. She lamented going back out into the field, but she would never miss this shit pen town, which only existed because there were still a few soldiers around, but that money would soon be drying out. With nearly all of the men gone, the sex workers and bar broads had moved away decades ago, and like them, the watering holes would be done as soon as this place stopped being a hold over for troops in transition to deployed status. Fawn gave a sigh of relief when she reached Rena’s. She ordered some drinks and four bowls. She watched the mastery of the little old ladies prepare the food inside and breathed in the smell of meats, onions and peppers.
She paid and was handed a bag of food and a box of drinks. She turned to find the two men and the woman from the bar down the street; they were draped over each other as they came up the hill, laughing and snorting loudly as they passed a flask between them. Fawn sniffed as she watched them wobble back and forth, knowing that if she dawdled any longer she was sure to miss the last bus. Standing in the light of the establishment, she was sure they would see her at any moment.
“You fucking dyke!” a man said, trying to keep his drunken girlfriend on her feet. The man that had tried to get Fawn to join their little group followed them with his head down, at least someone was embarrassed. Fawn crossed to their side of the street, knowing she had already missed the last bus, but suddenly she felt the need to stretch her legs.
“You on your way to your wife’s house, rug muncher? Fucking dyke,” the man said, trudging along, half carrying his girlfriend.
“Tough talk for a dodger,” Fawn said.
“Shut the fuck up. I’m no dodger!” he said. Fawn let go of a slight chuckle before the man pulled his arm away from his girlfriend, letting her collapse in the street. He turned to Fawn with his lips pulled back to his gums. His friend stopped and scanned the street for onlookers, blubbering weak commands for his friend to stop.
“What?” Fawn said, still holding her bags, hoping he would, wishing he would. The angry man huffed loudly and then returned to his girlfriend, failing at picking herself off of the sidewalk.
“Exactly,” Fawn said. “Coward.” The man immediately whirled around, swinging hard, his open palm found nothing but air. His girlfriend, now without support fell to the ground again. Fawn had ducked under the man’s attack completely. She set her bags down and launched herself up in one continuous motion. She threw her shoulder into the man’s gut, grabbed him around his waist and dumped him into an alley. The man who had spoken to Fawn in the bar had backed away and knelt beside his female friend. Once Fawn had sped past him his eyes widened as he took note of her actual size, she was much taller and far more muscular than the Arbaronian average. Fawn scowled back at the man’s friends as a warning, then removed her jacket, showing her 203rd Heavy Infantry tattoo, a cartoony, muscled woman wielding a chain gun with one arm and holding a bomb in the other.
The man she had thrown into the alley had recovered quickly and raised his fists, his face was warped into a brown mask of confusion when he saw that Fawn had slipped a mouth guard in between her jaws and her hands were now gloved. She began to rotate around the evenly sized man. He threw a quick jab which her head slipped past as she shot in and pushed the man against the rusty fence behind. The sound of Fawn’s fists punishing the man’s face were sickening, like a shovel smacking the bloated head of a corpse. She could see from the first two punches that he had realized his mistake, but his lesson in subservience in the presence of a greater being had just begun.
Fawn, being in Heavy Infantry had also had extensive medical enhancements performed on her, a surgical technique known as bracing, a strengthening of the bones, with a special attention paid to reinforcing those commonly used for striking, such as knuckles and elbows. Each time she landed an attack completely flush, it was like the force of a violently swung bat. The blows she laid against his body rattled through his flesh causing extreme cases of blunt trauma. His friend attempted to break it up, but Fawn shoved the man off his feet and out of the alley with a single-handed push.
Then she turned her attention back to the man that had berated her. He was a sniveling, squirming hump, blood and mucus streamed from his mouth and ruined nose. She felt a slight pinch in her fist and saw that a tooth fragment had lodged itself into the knuckle of her middle finger. She removed it and flicked it into the darkness behind the fence. The man was shaking and trying to latch on to one of her legs, pleading.
“Please. Please,” he said. The more he begged the angrier Fawn became. She sent several short rude kicks into his stomach. She reached down and grabbed the man by his collar and dragged him to his feet effortlessly. His friend had returned, but she shot him a hard glare. Then turned her focus back to her prey, both of his eyes were swollen shut, his bottom lip was a split eggplant. His lips were moving slowly, but nothing more came from between them. With a single hand she held him against the fence and repeatedly rammed her fist into his guts, as if she were trying to impale him with her arm.
“Hey! You gotta stop this shit. That’s enough. You’re gonna fuckin’ kill him.” The other man said. And how did this lesser know that it was not what she desired?
Fawn ignored him and pulled a hunting knife from her boot. She exhaled a hot breath in the night air; like smoke from the dragon’s throat. Her skin had gone clammy and had a grayish tint to it. The insides of her mouth were an acrid and nauseating flavor, her saliva glands had their overtime stubs approved and spit ran down her chin and onto her t-shirt. A troubled youth, Fawn had spent her life seeing the faces of her demons branded on anyone who dared to challenge her. Her parent’s scientific contributions to the war effort and decades of exemplary military service from her aunt, kept many of Fawn’s criminal charges from stacking up too high, but even this could not keep Fawn’s career as an officer on track. Before she had finished her training at Spacecraft Propulsion School she was dropped from the program and sent to the space fleet as a Junior Assistant Operations Officer, which said to any spaceman that she did not have a job. Refusing to acquire her Space Warfare Pin in a timely manner, she had been ejected from the fleet, only to be dumped into the Army as an enlisted soldier. Though the Army refused her at first --out of pure reflex, because no branch wanted to be another’s trash pile-- they had found use for the amount of violence and fear she could inflict upon humans and use it against the Fossas.
Fawn gripped her knife tightly as the wave came over her and she allowed herself to be drowned, colors only a few shades apart now stood in direct contrast, the world before her actively divided into an existence of disparity and absolutes. She twirled the knife between her fingers, then crouched low next to the heaving, moaning lump that had been the caricature of a man moments earlier. Then she heard a shuffling of feet and was tackled before she could turn her head towards the sound. She struggled in the darkness, before a familiar voice came from within the black hair.
“Dearborne.” Flechette said.
“Flech?” Fawn said; coming out of her stupor, the colors of the world appeared drab now and had melted back into one another in the darkness.
“Let’s go.” Flechette said, helping Fawn to her feet. The two walked past the crying man and his screaming girlfriend. Flechette shot them a glare as she passed. Fawn recovered her jacket and her bags and the two started on their way back to the barracks; cutting through several back streets and an old baseball field to avoid any MPs who might have been alerted because of the fight. The patchy brown grass crunched underneath their feet as they crossed the shabby outfield. The wooden boards used to make the dugout had been dried and withered by the sun, their corners turned upwards as if pulling away from the nails that crucified them. As they came to the infield Fawn kicked over the dusty battered second base, only held in place by a few links of rusty chain.
“So what was it that he did, to deserve that?” Flechette said.
“Why does that matter? He was a piece of shit,” Fawn said; then spat into the dusty path that connected first base to second.
“You should be more cautious when you lay hands on people,” Flechette said.
“You think I give a fuck?” Fawn said.
“It’s not about you giving a fuck; it’s about the heavy brass,” Flechette said.
“None of this is any fair,” Fawn said.
“What?” Flechette said.
“That those draft dodging fucks are out getting wasted, and my brother’s missing because he was towing the line.” Fawn said.
“They’re gonna lock you up if anybody finds out about this.” Flechette said. Fawn sighed and looked deep into the night sky.
“Good. I don’t even know why we bother,” Fawn said. “Not like this will ever end.”
“What else would we do? It’s not like normal jobs exist anymore,” Flechette said.
“I don’t know…anything. I just wish there was something waiting for me after this,” Fawn said.
“Someone?” Flechette said.
“Maybe…” Fawn said. “So, what were you doing out after taps?”
“It occurred to me that you would be drinking in public,” Flechette said.
“And what’s wrong with that?” Fawn said.
“Nothing, if you were guaranteed to be alone,” Flechette said.
Fawn shuffled into the barracks in front of the eyes of the mid watch. She made no attempt to salute the flag or the watch and trudged up the stairs with Flechette close behind. The hallway lights were dimmed, it being the girl’s bedtime, but Fawn had strong urge to give them payback for all the times she had tried to sleep off a hangover. As Fawn stumbled into their room she tossed Lechwe the bags and collapsed onto her rack face first.
“Thanks,” Lechwe said. “You okay?”
“Dearborne bashed some fuck face in town,” Flechette said.
“Oh shit. Did he deserve it?” Lechwe said. Fawn murmured into her pillow.
Flechette shrugged. “Most of it,” Flechette said, climbing back into her rack with her gun.
“No napkins?” Chital said. Fawn mumbled into the pillow and waved her hand.
“Hey, you want me to braid you up?” Lechwe said, shaking Fawn’s booted foot. Fawn rolled over and groaned loudly, the crook of her elbow was covering her eyes.
“Argh, I guess,” Fawn said.
“Don’t be like that. We won’t have time tomorrow,” Lechwe said.
“We won’t have time for much of anything tomorrow,” Chital said.