OOS: 6 pages enough? *shrug*
When Manganator finally mustered the willpower to open his eyes again, there were two others standing over him alongside the boy who had heralded his awakening.
One was a cheerful looking girl of about sixteen with a head of long, curly brown hair and anticipation in an amiable smile that seemed to fit her face nicely.
The other girl, standing a head taller than the first, didn’t look much older, but was much more mature. She had a sarcastic-looking grin and an edge in her eyes that seemed to size him up as he did the same, but nevertheless, the piercing look from her sharp ice-blue eyes chilled him, especially in his vulnerable state. Her jet-black hair was very short, almost like a recovering buzz-cut.
He had no clue what had happened to the other two survivors, Kat and Bill, where he was, how long had passed since his head trauma... so he decided to wait and let the information come to him.
Surprisingly, it was the more severe, black-haired girl that spoke first.
“How are you feeling, darling?”
Her voice was empty, but despite the lack of emotion behind it, Manganator did not detect any sarcasm. The other woman beamed on obliviously.
Manganator paused, and finally decided on his answer. “Well enough.”
It was a neutral response.
“Oh, that’s great!” the curly-haired woman squeaked from the side. “I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone. I assume that some of my penberry juice is in order!”
“What?” Manganator said in surprise. He was surprised enough to know that he wasn’t a captive of the enemy, let alone that this woman thought he and the other woman and him were lovers. In fact, he’d never met her before, and in his shock, he forgot the importance of discretion.
“Penberry juice...” the woman said, her smile fading a bit. “It’s famous here, my family’s recipe. Known from Burai to Charity.” The last part she said in a sing-song voice, as if memorized.
“Yes, some Penberry juice would be fine, Jenny,” the black haired woman said, eager to have the woman leave. When she exited, the black-haired woman gave a sharp glance to Manganator which advised him to stay quiet.
“Okay Ben, let’s let the two have some alone time, okay?”
The moment “Jenny” exited with the boy, the black haired woman’s demeanor lost any shadows of concern and compassion which had been an obvious facade.
“If you want to survive, you’re going to need to get a lot smarter, very quickly. If you do anything to compromise us, then I will put a bullet through your head, and don’t think I’ll hes-,”
Jenny’s steps stopped, and started approaching the room again, which made the black-haired woman mask herself in a more womanly facial expression.
“Do you want something to eat as well?” Jenny asked.
“That would be great, Jenny.” The black haired woman said with a seething smile.
“Ok then... I’m sure you guys want some time alone,” Jenny said, giving them a wink.
Confused, Manganator asked the most simple thing first. “So, What’s your name... honey.”
The designation earned a glare from her.
“I’m Sarah,” she said after a small second’s hesitation. “And what’s your’s, Marine?” Sarah was an interesting name for this woman. The name itself rolled off of the tongue naturally and softly, like a gentle push in the mouth, and such it was a complete mismatch for the grubby woman across from him.
“It’s Brian,” he said, arching his eyebrows at the way she said “Marine”. It was said in a casual, demeaning tone as if he were something below her.
“Where are the two that were with me?” Manganator asked urgently, in a sudden flash of returning memories.
“Not important now, Marine,” she said. She had intentionally not called him by his name, demonstrating complete detachment.
“What the hug do you mean not important...” Brian began, rising in his bed. He felt a stab of pain in his head as he moved it, but concern for his friends, and survivor’s guilt outweighed that considerably.
Jenny barged back into the room, wielding a silver tray of juice and small crackers. The sunlight reflecting off of the tray lit up her idiotic, smiling face even more than it was, making her look grossly cheery.
“Crackers!” she proclaimed happily.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Sarah said, fake smile returning again as she continued the facade that only someone as stupid as this Jenny woman would fall for.
“So, there was an accident on the way through, that sounds awful!” Jenny said, eyes lighting up at the prospect of hearing an interesting tale.
But Manganator was already getting out of his bed, to her surprise. “I’ve gotta go help them now, I don’t have any time for your games.”
“You shouldn’t be getting up...” Jennie said as if she were pointing out something he was doing against the rules in a childish game. Her once vacuous expression twisted in a look of pity as he struggled to rise.
He looked up only to see Sarah eying him icily behind a pretentious clenched jaw.
“Don’t you want to eat...” she asked, disappointed that the simplistic, utopic vision she had for the afternoon was slipping away.
“Thank you for your hospitality,” Manganator grunted, rising. He was naked from the waist up, but just next to the bed, there was his shirt, nicely washed.
Dizziness nearly put him right back onto the bed, but he managed to hold himself upright with a hand until the spell had passed. As Jennie eyed him with shock, and Sarah, distaste, he clothed himself in the shirt, and some shoes and other things that Sarah had apparently gotten him to replace his obviously Marine attire.
Clothed, he walked out of the door of his cramped room, and searched for the exit.
“We’ll just go outside for a moment, my fiancee wants to stretch his legs,” Sarah explained offhandedly, rushing off with him.
Jenny shrugged, and took a single cracker for herself, popping it into her mouth.
Manganator, stumbling through a dusty hallways, soon found the exit. The house seemed very low tech unlike the houses back home. The floors and walls were made of wood, and the house seemed devoid of all of the latest technology.
It truly was different than in the inner rings.
Not to mention, in the inner rings if they knew he was a Marine, they’d most likely give him sympathetic looks and maybe ask an awkward question about his experiences.
Here, they would kill him.
Once he exited the door, he paused in shock. All around him were houses just like the one he’d just left. A few streets down, there was a bustling square with hundreds of civilians. But the other directions were quite crowded as well.
He suddenly grew mindful of the Marine tattoo he had on his trigger finger, a black design capped with a skull. If anyone saw it he would be given away, so he tucked it into his sleeve. But, even after this, the alien environment seemed daunting to him. What if he was asked a question? What if he was found out?
“You wont find them,” Sarah said coldly from behind him. “They were captured and gone before I even arrived, their transponders deactivated. Even I don’t know where they are.”
Brian kicked his foot on the ground, scuffing the new shoes on the rocky ground. He was still disoriented, and couldn’t quite form his thoughts, but he didn’t care about the rationalization of all of it.
“Thank you,” Brian said in a low voice. “But this isn’t an option for me. It’s something I have to do.”
“Why?” Sarah asked.
Brian chocked back a cold laugh. “I guess it’s something you don’t understand.”
“They’re your friends, I understand, but in all likelihood they’ve been killed. And most certainly, if you go in some wild attempt to save them, you will die.”
“It’s not about friendship,” Brian said gruffly. “It’s my duty.”
Hearing her snort behind him put him from a mild annoyed indifference to enraged.
“There were thirty hugging men in my unit!” Manganator cried out, spinning around at her. “Most of them better soldiers than me! Most of them loved God knows how much more by their friends and family than my damned parents loved me when they sent me packing for the Marines! Now I’m alive, and I don’t deserve it, and if I don’t go and even let myself die trying to bring them back, then I could never go home. I’d rather shoot myself right now and lose the rest of my worthless hugging life! If that means rushing in there and taking their bullets, that’s fine.”
Her dark-blue eyes narrowed, sizing him up without any hint of compassion. “If you go and do something stupid, then you compromise me.”
“Oh, and you won’t let that happen?” Manganator asked bitterly.
“That’s right,” she answered coldly, raising her fists.
“I hope whatever hugging branch you’re in, they gave you one good set of lessons,” Manganator snarled, raising his own fists.
Her arms bounced gently against her body as her legs gave and stiffened enough to make her bob a few inches. Manganator laughed. The girl knew some kind of martial arts, but there’s only so much fancy strikes and holds can get a woman.
He stepped into his punch with his left leg, slamming it into the dirt as a distinct warning, but she didn’t back up. Grinning, he followed through in the motion with his right arm, intended on punching right through her block into the side of her head.
But she sidestepped the motion, and in his weakened state, Manganator wasn’t able to react before she had his arm cradled against her body. She acted mechanically, as if through many repetition and harsh training, stepping in and twisting his wrist back past the stress point.
Manganator let out a gasp, then struck at his own wrist as hard as he could with his other arm, righting it just enough to let him spin it into a safer position.
The moment he was free, he backed up in confusion. The woman knew how to fight.
But he was too far in to back down now. He lowered his head, covered his face with his arms, and ran forward, intent on bull rushing, a tactic which would disquiet any martial artist.
But instead of panicking, trying to strike him, or fleeing, she stepped towards him, disappeared behind his shielding arms, and before he could think to slow down, she hooked under his armpit. He tried to hit her with his other arm, landed a blow to her cheek, but she took the hit with a grunt and a small trickle of blood from her clenched teeth.
Before Manganator could strike again, she put an arm over his head, and connected it with the arm she had hooked beneath his armpit, and with a adjustment of weight, she used her position to force his already off-balance head into the ground.
He tried to get up, and roll, but she had already scooted a slim leg beneath him, to his neck, and then pulled his head back onto it. The pressure on his throat was choking him, and his position was too awkward to try to throw her off, or rise.
Just as he was about to pass out, she released him. He fell forward, holding his neck, never wanting another person’s hands to get close again. Then he felt her boot in his ribs as her kick threw him onto his back.
He looked up lazily, watching her figure come into view right above him, just blocking out the reddish sun. “Done with your games?” she asked, mocking him with his own tone of voice.