Furiosa glanced up at the sound of raised voices.
Three warboys trotted into the Dome, chattering excitedly at each other. The middle one-- the youngest; Furiosa had just given him his wheels ten days ago-- cradled a small canvas bundle in his arms like an infant. The others poked at it. They barreled toward Furiosa, their focus only on the thing in Sprig's arms, until the one on the left remembered, and checked the other two. A smile flirted with one corner of Furiosa's mouth. They approached her reverently, slowly.
“What is that,” she asked, sparing them the formalities she'd told them over and over again they should not observe, but over and over again they insisted.
“Dunno, Ma'am,” Hatchet, the oldest, said. His hair was growing into thick black waves, like several others'. Furiosa misliked that and his icy blue eyes, but his father wasn't his fault.
“Let me see,” she said, and stood, wiping the soft black soil from her hands. They'd had a good crop of hawthorn recently. It helped some of the older, sicker warboys, so as more got older and sicker, the more Furiosa told them to plant.
As Furiosa leaned close, Sprig clutched the bundle protectively to his narrow teenage chest, his eyes big and brown and frightened.
“It's okay,” Furiosa said, understanding instantly that they'd found a living thing. “I just want to see.”
Sprig's arms slowly opened, and Furiosa's heart skipkicked in her chest.
Two tiny sand-colored puppies, their eyes barely open, wiggled and mewled in a tattered canvas sheet.
“What are they, Ma'am?” Hatchet asked, his voice hushed with awe.
Furiosa felt a tug on her trouser leg. She glanced down. Angharad held out her chubby baby arms, and Furiosa scooped her up. She was glad it was just the two of them in the Dome; this would have been a spectacle otherwise. Few people, save the three remaining Vuvalini and maybe Ace, would have ever seen the tiny little sausages-- or what they'd grow into-- before.
“They're puppies,” she said quietly, and stroked two gentle fingers on a tiny, velvety forehead. “Baby dingos. You know what a dingo is?” Furiosa asked them, not looking up.
“Heard the wordburger before,” Sprig said. “But... these are... babies?”
“Yeah,” Furiosa said. Angharad chirped happily and reached for the furry things. “Be easy, Angharad. Gentle.”
“Huh. Babies,” Hatchet said, and nudged the third warboy. He grinned and did not speak. He could not, Furiosa realized, because he had been one of Joe's attendants. Close to him, close enough to see all his weaknesses. So Joe had had his tongue cut out.
But Joe was a fucking moron, because Yarrow didn't need his tongue to speak. His hands flicked through a series of signs: “We should name them.”
“Yeah,” Sprig said. “What should we name them, Ma'am?”
Furiosa straightened out her smile... with effort. “Hold on. Where did you find them?”
Hatchet pointed out the window. “Few miles south. Just in the sand, all by theirselves.”
“Were there any pawprints around them? Footprints?”
All three warboys shook their heads. Sprig's light brown curls bounced in one mass on his head.
Furiosa sighed, but the trepidation could not grey out the simple, warm joy nesting right below her heart. Angharad squirmed and squeaked gleefully in her arms as if conversing with the puppies in babyspeak.
“Take them to the nursery,” she commanded, and the three warboys unconsciously straightened their backs. “They're very young, so they need a lot of milk. Find Gwenivere. She can show you how to feed them. Go on.”
Grinning, they turned and headed for the exit, babbling as they had when they'd come in. Angharad squealed and whipsawed her little body, catching Furiosa off guard and nearly dumping herself to the stone floor. Furiosa barked in alarm and let the toddler slide out of her arms. Calling in her little baby voice, she waddled after the warboys. Yarrow turned, smiled, and held out his hand. Angharad grasped two of his fingers, and Furiosa just caught the edge of the signed word “baby” before they walked out the door.