Chapter 1: A Family
And there you stood. The three of you, at what seemed like the end of the world, knowing you’re having backs covered from dusk to dawn, and from dawn to dusk. It felt good to have a family in these wasteful lands, but it wasn’t everything. Setting a foot out of the military base’s residence meant immediate danger. You only hoped that safety would always stay at least within of that residence’s borders. You hoped. You kept on doing what had to be done, and with the enemy steadily catching up with you, prepared for an animalistic revolution – all while the hunters were becoming the hunted.
You stepped out of the helicopter, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Just trees and air smelling of gunpowder, as if, to you, a familiar event took place here just a few hours prior. Running a palm through your hair, you suddenly felt clueless. Then the helicopter took off without a single warning. Left alone, you realized what has been behind you the whole time – a monstrous building, similar to other military bases you’ve seen and lived in. Hopefully they won’t be against keeping you here once a few months pass by.
Residing in different military districts has been a huge mental drain. None of it had to happen if it wasn’t for a simple sense of fear that’s so very associated with humanity’s biggest weaknesses.
Before taking another step, you recapitulated everything you knew in your mind, grounding yourself from going nervous and unsure.
The year was 2000. The beast outbreak began in approximately 1960, when an Italian facility failed at its’ experiments with animals, causing a so-called zombie apocalypse amongst the European fauna. It spread quickly. Animals went overly primal in just a few months, attacking and preying on human residents, which escalated into a response from Italy: another facility. This time, they had built several foundation districts in the form of military bases across all Europe, each country having at least five of those. The primary aim was to protect people from the monsters, but there was a secondary aim as well.
Beginning with failed animal experiments, people have not learnt their lesson and began appropriating young adults and children as their test subjects. The reason being an invention of new humanity which would be capable of successfully defeating the beast population, they’ve of course failed again. The test subjects supposedly had their memory wiped and were sent out to serve in military bases along with other ordinary people, who have either been selected or volunteered for the job
You were one of them, serving as a weapon and armory merchant since 15 years of age and changing jobs to a hunter upon hitting 28. That’s where your life mostly turned upside down, as after a few hunts you and your colleagues have noticed that none of the beasts would ever act hostile towards you. And so, fellow hunters began fearing you, kept sending you away to other districts, exchanging you like a hot potato. It wasn’t pleasant at all, but now you were here, wondering whether this military base’s personnel will be the same.
The sound of a metal door sliding open disrupted you from a flow of thoughts. You had everything sorted in your mind, it was time. Make as great and stable impression as possible, so they don’t throw you off the cliff before a hunt even begins. With a huge rucksack strapped to your back, you made your way towards the entrance set in the building’s very side.
Upon entering, you’ve been met with stairs leading up to another set of closed doors, which gave off a more gateway-like vibe. This place was huge, possibly more spacious than some of the previous you’ve seen.
You stopped, rethinking the very last bits of how a perfect first impression was supposed to go. Then you knocked heavily on the huge door, making sure whoever was on the other side could hear you. It actually didn’t take a long time for them to open just enough for you to slip in, in a way you couldn’t even manage to catch a glimpse of the person’s face.
A loud thump spread across the hallway complex as said person shut the door behind you close, and you’ve been presented with a sight at two corridors; one stretching right in front of you, the other one to your left side.
Finally looking up at the somebody, you met face to face with a charismatic seeming woman, possibly around the same age as you, wearing a white turtle neck with a light black jacket on top. She had rather large circular glasses with a light blue tint to them resting on top of her nose, hiding a pair of grey-yellowish eyes behind. Her hair was as black as coal, firmly cut a few centimeters above her shoulders. A bun-shaped ponytail created a nice detail, peeking from behind the top of her head.
“Waidmanns Heil, Neuling,” she greeted you with a wide smile and curious glance, “mein Bruder hätte dich normalerweise begrüßt, aber er ist im Moment draußen. Christoph ist der Wachmann, weißt du?”
And suddenly, all your preparations went to waste. Complete waste. This woman just stripped you off of all the confidence you had – who on Earth were you to think that they would assume you’re almost incapable of understanding German language? You only knew the very basics. Yet here you were, having to try and play it off cool.
“Uhh, entschuldigung,” you stuttered, feeling your face heat up, “ich bin nicht so gut in Deustche sprechen, kannst du Englisch… sprechen?”
From whatever she’s said before, you could only understand these things: she called you a newbie, then talked about something that had to do with her brother and you, and that perhaps her brother is named Christoph and he’s… the district’s Wachmann?
A confused expression appeared on her face, which slowly turned into a visible urge to laugh at you. Thankfully though, she held on to her morals and didn’t burst out giggling right there at the very moment.
“Bitte sprich kein Englisch zu mir,” using her hands to gesture a denial, she began walking down the hallway on your left side, probably hinting at you to become her follower for a while, “dafür haben wir noch jemanden.”
Once again, your level of understanding her speech was below average. Perhaps she’s leading you to someone who speaks English? Perhaps she just told you to simply deal with it. That’s probably what you get for being unwanted by all the districts in your native country, or at least you thought so.
You’ve been led to a medium sized room. First things you’ve noticed were the very details – a table of billiards in one corner, an old looking stereo in the other. By the wall in front of you stood a large table with chairs scattered around it. Someone was sitting on one of those in complete silence, ears deep into reading a book. He had black, spiky hair and a concentrated facial expression, wore black combat boots and a very tight, also black, t-shirt. Everything about him was either black with small pieces of red, even his nails.
“Richard?” the woman spoke, squeezing each of her hands in the other behind her back while talking, “Sie kann kein Deutsch. Kannst du bitte aushelfen?”
So, she did find you someone to speak with! Did you really want to bother him, though?
“Aha?” Richard took his eyes off of the book and precisely shifted all his attention to you, scanning you from head to toe in a single sight. He laid his book on the table, standing up, although still talking to the woman who led you here, “Ich kümmere mich darum.”
She gifted him a smile, turning around in the blink of an eye and leaving you two behind. Although unable to focus, it was your time to shine. Or at least a second attempt to do so.
“Waidmanns Heil,” he reached his hand out to you, catching you off guard, “welcome to the district. I’m Richard, nice to meet you.”
“Good hunting, I’m [Y/N]. Nice to meet you too.” you introduced yourself, firmly grasping his hand and shaking it. A tight grasp was important, at least among hunters and other people serving the facility. You really had no idea how the outside world was.
“Don’t bother, you can say Waidmanns Heil from now on,” Richard cracked a smile, “it’s basically the same as Good hunting, y’know.”
No matter how charismatic and nice the man appeared, you couldn’t help but feel judged. As if you were an absolute newcomer to this job, but perhaps that was just your insecurity. However, he could have been also trying to suggest that you, in fact, have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, speaking community-wise.
After a short break during which Richard was obviously overthinking how to treat someone new, it appeared like he finally came up with a plan.
“I’ll bring you to our herr doctor, new recruits always have to speak with him before anything,” making his way outside of the lively looking room, he continued even further down the hallway. That’s when you noticed that there’s a staircase at the very end, “I can wait for you outside and then show you around, if you’d like.”
“That would be nice.” your mouth couldn’t resist smiling at his generosity.
You’ve been definitely treated worse while entering other districts, and went through many consultations with people probably similar to the so-called herr doctor. Richard’s attitude only made you wonder how the others are going to be like, while he led you down the stairs. You passed by one floor, which already seemed enough like a basement. However, there was one more, you realized as you progressed deeper down into the underground.
If you weren’t mistaken, you found yourself two levels below the ground floor. That wasn’t as bad, but didn’t feel quite great either. A dark, barely enlightened aisle appeared in front of your face, this one having yet another steel set of doors at the end. That, however, wasn’t where you were supposed to go – instead, Richard stopped you right opposite to smaller, white-painted entrance on the side.
“He doesn’t speak if he doesn’t have to, so don’t take anything personally.” Richard leaned his back against the wall, facing you. His hand made its’ way to a jeans pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes, “Just go ahead. Knock. Go in and slay. But just don’t tell him that I’m smoking over here, ‘kay?”
“Oh,” you nodded, slightly entertained by his behavior, “sure, no worries.”
Turning to the door, you balled your palm into a fist and knocked your knuckles against the door. No response. So, you did it again, this time louder – just to receive an irritated answer from a room behind the wall.
“Komm herein!” you heard a voice, sounding rather soft no matter the annoyance. At least this time, you understood what has been wanted from you. Pushing down on the doorknob, you allowed yourself into a huge room filled with white, sharp light. It made your eyes squint naturally, and so took you a while to orientate yourself around, or even spot the district’s doctor.
Finally, and before even realizing so, you were looking up at a tall, skinny man with a pair of thick glasses protecting his eyes. Wearing a long, white coat, he looked down at you and then changed his glance to Richard, who has not yet lighted his cigarette. Thankfully.
“You’ll have to use English, Flake.” the spiky haired, rebellious seeming man grinned. Flake, though, didn’t look as amused at the thought of using a different language other than his native one.
It took him a few more exchanged glances before Flake finally invited you in, closing the door quietly behind you as soon as you stepped inside. The room truly was no office. It was a laboratory, with regals, closets, equipment and various tools scattered around almost every piece of furniture. Thankfully, a perfectly clean desk with two chairs hid behind the corner. Behind these was set an obviously heavily protected entrance into another room. Why did everything on this floor give off such a secretive and dangerous, yet so inviting, vibe?
Flake took a seat and ordered you to sit down as well.
“Your documents?” he looked at you through the top of his glasses, resting both arms on the desk. Without a single word, you threw the heavy rucksack off of your back and unzipped its’ side pocket, pulling out a folder stuffed with some papers. On those papers was almost all information about your profession, experience in the facility, health and so on.
Flake gently took the folder from your hold and opened it. These weird introductions always made you feel stripped, naked and insecure, but you would calm yourself down with the thought that everyone who wants to work at a district has to go through this. Besides, the information was still protected by law. He couldn’t tell anyone anything, all had to be secure in his hands, in his mind even.
Flipping through the papers, he shifted expressions from concerned to satisfied, to even respectful. You liked to try and somehow make out what he was probably thinking, even though you could have been very wrong.
“10 districts, yes?” suddenly, the same voice, but much calmer and quieter, spoke to you.
“Yes. I’ve changed between 10 districts, this is my 11th one.”
“Unexplainable reactions when presented to a feral life form of corrupted kind,” he recited out loud exactly what was written in one of the papers, sending a jolt of shame down your spine, “is that true?”
His hands trembled a little upon flipping another thin paper. Now it seemed more like he was overthinking something, rather than inspecting the folder’s content. You could bet that he had his head full of what he just read out loud, and you could only pray that he doesn’t send you off right away. Instead, after a while of tension, Flake’s statement calmed your anxiety.
“Very interesting,” closing the folder and shoving it into the desk’s drawer, he looked at you with a serious, and also somehow daring glare, “go have a word with our weaponsmith when you can. You probably have something in common.”
Flake walked off, leaving you sitting on the chair, and thus you assumed that this was probably all. When you asked him just to make sure, he confirmed your assumption. The rucksack was already on your back once again, when out of nowhere, the tall man turned to you for the last time, making a self-defining statement.
“By the way, I’m not a doctor,” his attitude gave off a single feeling – wholesome but grumpy, “I’m the scientist. Scientist Flake. See you later.”
And like that, he began minding his own business again.
“Nice to meet you too… scientist Flake.” you couldn’t help but raise the corners of your mouth at his introduction, finally aiming for the same door through which you entered.
The hallway’s darkness appeared and felt much deeper now that you’ve exited Flake’s laboratory. The only thing glowing was the tip of Richard’s cigarette, which was also the single object you could see before your eyes got used to the dimness again.
Folding your arms, you let out a sigh almost unintentionally.
“He’s something, isn’t he?” laughing quietly, Richard had a final draw from his cigarette, which he threw to the ground and stepped on right after. The air was filled with its’, for you, pleasant smell.
“I don’t wanna judge so quickly.” you shrugged.
“Admirable,” he spoke, turning to walk upstairs, “do you want me to show you around now?”
You followed with a nod, not needing to actually answer. He could have most likely guessed, anyways. Richard began the tour on one level below ground floor, not even bothering to mention the well secured place close to Flake’s laboratory. After all, maybe you weren’t supposed to know.
At least he explained that smoking is prohibited in most of the building, but he personally claimed the utter underground floor’s corridor as a place where this law can be broken from time to time. Nobody really allowed him to do so, but Flake would barely ever say anything against it.
This floor was filled mostly with the personnel’s little apartment rooms, and there were nine of them in total, one already reserved for you. Right next to the staircase was a storage room where they have kept almost everything you could think of – food, junk, furniture, even boxes full of cigarette packs. The huge storage space was also neighbored by toilets, to which Richard claimed that there are also some on the ground floor, together with showers. There was also a huge armory room in the middle here, to which you’ve been told you should stop by in order to get yourself a proper armor and weapons. It was practically surrounded by hallways, and two people, including Flake, had apartments right in front of its’ entrance.
“The armory has been Ollie’s little kingdom for a while now.” Richard claimed, although you had roughly any idea what he was referring to. Ollie, though, was probably the name of their weaponsmith then.
“Oh,” you wondered, “so he’s new as well?”
“Not quite, but he also wasn’t always the weaponsmith here.”
Shady, you thought, not digging into the topic any further. Maybe it would be much more interesting, and definitely fair to ask Ollie in person upon getting a chance to meet him. Besides, Richard’s way of speech even made you think that probably Ollie is a replacement for an old weaponsmith who might have died. You had to brush this thought off quickly. There was enough death surrounding your everyday life already.
After you’ve been told and shown that your room, set at the very end of a hallway, is the one next to their hunter’s room, you already wanted to take a peek inside – but Richard dragged you away from there just in time, stating that you’ll have enough space to do so later.
Next on to take a tour through was the ground floor. You already knew that the first room from the staircase was a community room, followed by a guard’s office right next to the huge main door. Opposite to those was also a little window accompanied by an entrance leading to their garden. It was set inside of the building, except that it logically lacked a roof. The garden would function as a safe space for getting fresh air, relaxing or having a smoke, as long as the window was closed.
Behind the corner were more bathrooms and also showers, both separated into a male and female section. At the end of that corridor was a dining room, hiding a decently sized kitchen behind itself. Richard told you that there is another gateway accessible from the outside which would expose a garage filled with two armored military vehicles. That led him to introducing his job in this district – a military vehicle specialist, also a driver. He shared the profession with someone named Paul, and not only the profession. Supposedly they even shared one small apartment on the floor below, except that each one’s space was separated by a wall for the sake of privacy.
You’ve walked past many people with different faces on your small tour, but Richard would always be too busy showing you around to let you stop and get to know them. It resulted into them simply staring, guessing that you’re not here only temporarily. Remembering the passing of another, very young-seeming girl, a short man with iconic styled attempt for a bowl cut on his head, and someone who appeared very tough and muscular, you got overwhelmed by the thought of how many people are there yet to meet.
Skipping the part where you lied to yourself that everything was okay, this was getting you a little shaky, like always.
“Okay, that’s it, I guess. This is our home, our little base and family,” Richard began slowly making his way back to the community room, obviously trying his very best to appear welcoming and friendly, “you can go unpack into your apartment now. Don’t forget the armory business and lunch, others will be waiting for introduction."
The fact that he called the district a family made your heart fill with a warming sensation.
“I’ll come around after I unload this big heavy on my back,” you squirmed, making the rucksack shake a bit, “definitely. Thank you for showing me around, I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t have to thank me.” he shook his head while the two of you parted ways, Richard leaving to resume reading a book and you going downstairs.
It was a matter of fortune that you didn’t stumble upon anyone as you walked towards your room. The first apartment to walk by had a label with “FLAKE” written on it, whereas the next one was tagged by someone named Lina. Guessing it was one of the girls you’ve seen so far, you passed your room out of sheer curiosity, wanting to take a look at your neighbor’s name.
The name sparked something inside you. A short one, yet strong sounding, basically fitting perfectly to someone who worked as a hunter. You couldn’t possibly become his colleague later on, could you? Although there was no further interest in bringing your strange relationship with the beasts’ behavior to somebody else’s attention.
Not feeling the need to risk and possibly appear as a creep anymore, you returned to the doorstep of your very personal space. Keys were already in the keyhole, and all you had to do was turn them, push forward and take a look at what you were hopefully going to be living in for some time now.
And you know what? It looked neat. As if it wasn’t abandoned for a long time, which was exactly something you wouldn’t have expected. Closing yourself inside, you had to grin. It was perfect. You were facing a window upon stepping inside, under which stood a comfortable looking bed accompanied by a small nightstand. A closet set into one of the walls and finally, desk with a chair, next to which stood a lamp. It wasn’t anything extra from an objectifying perspective, but just enough for you. The soft carpet in the middle of the floor added to its’ cozy feeling. Besides, you’ve been used to rooms far, far worse.
Your rucksack hit heavily against the ground and so, you began unpacking, storing your clothes in the closets and a few personal items such as notebooks, photographs and some little souvenirs found their place on top of the desk.
Once being done, there was finally and opportunity to rest. You sat down on the bed and slightly tried out how well it bounces. Satisfaction. Gifting yourself with a few minutes of rest, you became a little glad that you ended up here, even though barely knowing two people. You couldn’t really explain how it felt, but something was telling you that this district was a safe place for you, strangely enough feeling like home since the moment Richard called it a family. Or were you just getting your hopes up?
They were just so much more humane than others you’ve met in the past. And Flake didn’t call your strange trait creepy nor endangering – he called it very interesting, who on Earth would even think it’s interesting?!
As much as lost you were in your thoughts which would constantly revolve around your first impressions, you got quickly kicked back into reality. Someone knocked on the door, and your muscles tightened as you had no idea who to expect. Throat too clutched to speak, you quickly made it over there and pulled the doorknob towards yourself.
There was no one. Just a small letter laying by the threshold which you almost haven’t noticed in the first place, but picked it up with curiosity. It was bent in half and upon unfolding it, you began reading through an organized handwriting:
Breakfast is from 6 in the morning to 9. But the sooner you come, the more food to pick from.
Lunch is exactly at noon and we all meet there.
Dinner is at 6 in the afternoon and we all also usually meet there.
Snacks are in the dining room or the storage.
We take turns in cooking. Eventually it will also be your turn.
Smoke only outside, don’t let Richard tell you otherwise. I know he smokes downstairs. Don’t do it though. You can take cigarette packs from the storage too.
We are happy to have you!
So, it was from him, then. Your neighbor, obviously preferring an indirect form of communication, but you didn’t really mind. If he was shy, then this way of sharing information was equally less stressing for you as well. You looked over to the side and wondered how he could disappear into his room so quickly and silently. Perhaps it was the art of being a hunter. You knew too well.
Thinking there is really not much sense in going back to your place, you bent the paper in half again and shoved it down your pants’ pocket. Off to the armory you went!
Chapter 2: The Replacement
A little bit more of introduction before a true action strikes!
What does the chapter title mean? Why does Paul refer to you as "another piece amongst Rammstein"?
Hi, sorry that this came a little later (exactly 3 hours later than promised). I'll do my best to be more accurate next time.
The bald, rather skinny, tall man appeared to be a humble and modest person. Offering you a cup of tea upon setting a foot into the armory, the weaponsmith claimed that he would have offered you coffee instead, but it would be a waste to taste a coffee made by him rather than one made by Richard. Although unsure whether he was being sarcastic or not, you didn’t argue and let yourself be served with a cup of honey tea.
“No need.” you shook your head, sitting on a chair beside his working table. Some German rifle would lay on top of it, but since you had no information about German weaponry, it was almost hard to guess what purpose it served.
The cup of tea landed next to the rifle, right under your nose. A sweet “thank you” escaped your lips, after which Oliver sat down by the working table’s other side, minding his own serving of tea.
A quiet weaponsmith. Very quiet. You would mostly expect him to speak, ask about your experience with guns and hunting, but none of it came to sound, really. It was just awkward, yet understanding silence with few exchanged eye contacts here and there. As if he was getting to know you in his very own way.
Then, after a while of existing like that, he finally stood up and walked to the armory’s back, returning with a rifle in his hands. He shoved the one that would lay in front of you aside and replaced it with the model he picked for you.
“Have a look at this,” he wouldn’t sit back down, “you seem a head-on kind of person, I think this would suit you more than a longer scoped rifle. This one’s effective fire range is roughly 400 meters. Originally from Russia. But what you see here is East Germany’s model, it’s quite rare, but our district managed to get hands on few.”
That was a lot of information at once, but given your experience, you were able to have a grip on it. The rifle looked promising. You even noticed a closed bayonet, assuming you could open it in time of need, or just have it opened in advance.
“What does Till have?” you wondered, partly trying to get the weaponsmith to speak some more, partly bathing in the weird enjoyment of saying the hunter’s name out loud.
“A sniper rifle,” Oliver scratched the back of his head, “the only one we have of its’ kind. Only 176 were made about ten to twenty years ago.”
“And no secondary weapon?”
“No, he says he doesn’t need one. Till has never even returned with a single wound. Nobody knows how exactly he does that.”
You smirked. The only way Till has reached out to you so far was through a letter – and it already said enough about his charcter. Or at least you thought so. Getting back to the topic of rifles, however, you couldn’t concentrate on that. It took you a moment to properly investigate the rifle that has been presented to you.
“I think it will do just fine,” you ran your fingertips across the weapon’s stock, “I used to work with similar.”
Oliver nodded and disappeared into the unlit part of the huge space once again.
“What is your size?” his voice suddenly escaped the void, and it actually got you thinking for a second.
“[Y/S]. Hopefully you have some.”
Walking back to you, you noticed a pile of uniform pieces bent over his arm. As far as you were able to tell, the clothing had a dark blue color with green lacing. Oliver placed that pile over the rifle and before you could realize it, he was dragging a wheeled mirror towards you. A while later, you were also presented with heavy armor pieces which were supposed to be worn over your uniform.
“Try the uniform on together with the armor.”
The weaponsmith suddenly appeared concentrated, you felt good that it gave off the vibe of knowing what he was doing. Then it probably hit him that you were also going to change your pants, so he made his way over to the entrance, deciding to wait behind a corner. You got instructed to call out once you’re done changing.
The undressing and dressing part went very quick. Even though you were alone in the armory, you still felt very insecure, simply because it wasn’t your apartment, your own privacy. But this had to do. You felt the uniform fitting comfortably on your body, and so was the armor, although some pieces were a little loose for your taste. It probably had to have some regulation straps or something similar to it, you just haven’t figured it out.
“Oliver?” loud enough for him to hear you, quiet enough for keeping the communication strictly between the two of you.
“You can call me Oli like everyone else,” he immediately appeared from behind the corner, taking wide steps towards you. His boots would send a thudding noise across the armory with each one, “do you feel good in it? It’s important for you to do.”
“Yes,” you nodded, gazing at your reflection – and with that, you noticed how his eyes are also locked on the mirror and anything it was reflecting, “just, how do I tighten this?”
You raised your arm, pointing at the armor piece grasping around it. It was visibly loose, but Oli just smiled, grabbing a strap from under it and pulling towards himself, which immediately adjusted how well it fit your body.
“It’s a new set, so the strappings might be stuck under each piece. Sometimes it’s hard to notice.”
No matter how trivial and easily solvable your problem was, and how embarassed you felt for not figuring it out yourself, he still kept a hint of friendly smile on his face, accompanied by a pair of honest, blue eyes.
“So that’s what the hunters wear in this district?” you wondered after being told to keep the armor on yourself for at least an hour in order to get used to it. Now you were actually enjoying your tea again, having that little silence session with Oli which you tried to fill with your words. Especially thanks to Flake’s information, there would be something to speak about even in the most desperate verbal stillness.
“No,” Oli’s eyes squinted, “you’re not going to work as a hunter right on your first days. We’re running quite short on guards.”
“Oh.” you raised eyebrows at the cup of tea under your face. Yet another decently embarrassing thing that you came up with and Oli had to unforcedly lead you back on track. However, it was kind of disappointing that you couldn’t continue your new profession here, besides guarding was a job entirely new for you.
It was unusual for a weaponry merchant to jump up on a position of hunter, but what could you possibly do in the past? The reason for your change being three huntsmen falling victim to beasts in a single month, somebody had to take their place. Given your extensive knowledge about local weaponry, the somebody happened to be yourself.
“Do you know why none of my country’s districts want me around anymore?” trying to find a way of working the conversation to this topic, you caught Oli’s interest.
“The beasts don’t attack me,” your throat warmed at swallowing another sip of tea, “when Flake found out, he told me to go have a word with you.”
Oli let out a long sigh, his hands taking a hold of one another in his lap. Maybe it was too early for him to feel comfortable with opening up.
“I’m a beast magnet. I lure them to myself just by being there, that’s why I have to stay here.”
So, this was the reason Flake sent you to him, you thought to yourself. A first reaction was to feel incredibly sorry for Oli. He really looked unsatisfied with his trait, and you grew afraid that you reminded him of something hurtful. There was no intention to drag his past out to the surface, yet like a secretive book, you noticed him taking another breath before continuing his speech.
“I was actually very excited to be a hunter. Once I promoted and went out with Till… it was a disaster. So many of them riled up on us. We had a really hard time taking them out, and after Flake ran some tests, it turned out that I would be better off inside. Only being outside of the base for more than ten minutes puts everyone at risk. That’s also why the garden got reopened.”
You listened to his story, not daring to look anywhere else than right at him. He deserved the attention, as you felt regret in his voice. Oli then just ended up saying how much he misses going outside, and that broke your heart a tad bit more than it already has been.
“I’m sorry to hear,” was all you managed to say, “it must be horrible. I probably couldn’t stand the heaviness of this.”
“It’s not like I have it the worst of all. I’m not allowed to go outside but you are unwanted by your own homeland,” he shrugged, the wide smile starting to have an appearance on his face again, “we’re even.”
“Why do you think it is?” a question suddenly jumped out of you almost uncontrolled, “I didn’t think anyone else had a defect similar to mine. Just the sheer anomaly of beasts picking how they will interact with a certain human.”
Oli looked away and shrugged. He seemingly didn’t wish to talk about the topic anymore, or simply had no idea. Both versions were considerable in his case. You observed him without making yourself obvious, and noticed how he looked up at a clock hanging on the wall next to you. Following his glance, it became apparent you should both pick yourselves up from the strange meet and greet. Both pointers were about to hit exact noon.
And so, you did, without the need to say a single word. Downed your teas after standing up, you let the cups rest on the working table. Oli wouldn’t wait too long to make his way straight to the dining room, hungrily marching out of the armory. You chose not to follow him.
“I’ll put the rifle to my room,” you stated, picking it up. It had no unordinary heft or lightness, thankfully. Probably you were just used, “I’ll be right there, okay? Will you tell them I’m not gonna be late, please?”
“Okay!” a sense of giggle could be heard from Oli’s voice. Yes, you were a little too passionate about letting them know that you are actually not running late. That perhaps seemed appropriate to laugh upon for Oli, and you couldn’t really blame him.
You haven’t stormed a hallway this quickly before. The rifle tightly grasped in your arms, you rushed inside your apartment, gently leaned the weapon against a wall and ran out just as quick, leaving your door unlocked. Already overhearing some clocks striking 12 PM, you jogged up the stairs and went on sprinting until you almost bashed into the closed entrance. Just so it wouldn’t have seemed like you just tested the hell out of your lungs, you stopped for a moment, collectedly opening the door.
Everyone was already there. What a shame. Did Oli tell them? You hoped he did.
Finally seeing them all together, and everyone’s eyes locked onto you except for one or two pairs, you let out a very resonant Waidmanns Heil. They’ve returned you the greeting almost like a choir. Then, a man visibly shorter than others stood up and made his way right to you. You haven’t even had the chance to properly look at all the faces you didn’t know, and he was there.
“A new piece amongst Rammstein!” he laughed, cheeks rising and eyes squinting. He seemed so full of energy, yet the acting pattern wasn’t fully natural. You could tell. And what the hell did he just say? Rammstein? You for sure had no idea that such German word existed. “Willkommen!”
You thanked, and the man, who has introduced himself as Paul, led you to a free chair by one of the dining tables. There were two, one for four people and the other one could hold up to five. This one had five chairs positioned around, so Paul pulled one out for you, but didn’t let you sit down just yet.
“You should introduce yourself.” he spoke to you, now much calmer than just a few seconds before. A direct eye contact made you realize that this was the man whose hairstyle was so unique; this was the first time in your life you were seeing it actually being pretty on someone. Paul sat down and left you to be the only one standing.
“Should I?” you reassured yourself, staring down. He nodded.
It was a terrifying situation. You would probably prefer to meet everyone in person rather than this huge introduction. Damn it, you would probably prefer to be hunting beasts down for an entire day than having to speak in front of people. When you kept your silence for more than a few seconds, a figure giving off some rather distinctive vibes finally began paying attention to your presence. His outstandingly muscular arms folded, you could tell he was waiting. Everyone was. But he waited louder than others.
“Aah,” you couldn’t concentrate, “hello. Some of you have met me before, but for those who haven’t – my name is [Y/N]. I serve the facility for 14 years, and a year ago officially became a hunter. I resided here because of some… issues… in my homeland. I’m happy to be here. Hopefully… w-we’ll get along. Thanks.”
Your body bent forward into a little bow naturally, as you didn’t even wait for a response. Ass dropping down on the chair, you pierced Paul with a horrified glare. He obviously understood, gesturing a thumbs up. Another person sitting by your table was the girl who ultimately welcomed you here, and next to her sat Richard. Thanks God there was someone at least mildly familiar.
“Welcome, [Y/N]!” someone shouted from across the room. You recognized the voice, definitely have heard it before, but couldn’t assign it to anyone specific so quickly. It made your insides flutter, but still, you just already wanted food.
The tables were set, but empty. Someone was probably yet to come with food, and a sigh of relief escaped you upon the kitchen’s door busting open. A girl with long, blonde hair which obviously lost its’ color on the fringe and turned grey, walked into the dining room while managing to hold four plates full of food. She first served the table closer to her, which sadly wasn’t yours, and then made it to yours. Upon seeing you, she made a face. A face that clutched the back of your neck in embarrassment.
If you felt as if Richard was judging you before, you have definitely had someone’s manifestation of judgefulness to yet come across.
“Is that the replacement?” she immediately turned to Richard, and in the corner of your eye, you noticed the other, older woman looking elsewhere with closed eyes. She knew her stuff, and knew today’s cook too well also.
“Lina!” Paul muttered under his breath, striking his rather silent words towards the girl, most likely named or nicknamed Lina.
“That’s [Y/N], you missed her introduction.” Richard smiled at her understandingly. Guessing by the reaction, he probably had a bigger capability of holding his opinions inside while still coming off as a tolerating person.
“[Y/N],” she repeated and wouldn’t look at you anymore, “I’m Lina. Nice to meet you.”
Her disappearance into the realms of another table made you feel more comfortable. You exchanged glances with Paul once again, and hopefully it needed to be done for the last time today, and then looked down on the food. The smell soothed your nerves – chicken, potatoes and a little to no sauce covering it. You already wished to start devouring it, since you haven’t eaten anything since morning. There would be space to think about the replacement tag later.
“Battle ready, ja?” the woman sitting opposite to you attempted for English with a very strong accent, jokingly pointing at you wearing the guardsmen armor. Now you were even, for your horrible German in the beginning. She reached out a hand to you again and you grasped it in a handshake, “Ich heiße Frieda.”
The lunch went by just fine. Somewhere in the middle of enjoying your tasty lunch, the thought of Lina calling you a replacement made you reconsider some things in your mind. Maybe they’re running short on guards because they have just lost one a few days, weeks, or months ago. Maybe Oli hasn’t told you everything, but who were you to hold grudges against him for that? You were a newcomer; couldn’t get to know everything in the first few hours after introducing yourself to a single person. There were probably some things you just had to figure out by yourself, and then someday, when you get drunk, the truth will come to surface by itself.
Not being concentrated on food while eating was a little unhealthy, but your mind was keeping you busy. It was understandable. You were almost finished when Frieda leaned over to Richard and whispered something in German to him, which got passed onto you soon after.
“Frieda wants me to tell you that you’ll be working with her brother, Christoph,” he stated, listening to more of Frieda’s mouth running restless, translating in the process, “she says that he may seem a little too serious about things from time to time, but that’s not really who he is.”
She went on.
“And also th– no! I’m not gonna tell her that, Frieda.” Richard failed at keeping his words inside, but you could tell from their expressions and body language that it wasn’t anything harsh. They were laughing, and you were left to only wonder what spicy secret these two shared about Christoph.
You pushed your empty plate aside just in time.
The alarms went off. Loud, annoying, scary, nerve wrecking howling for attention and the red lights immediately turning the entire place to hell. You fired off of the chair like a rocket and your field of view immediately found Oliver in the same position as you, noticeably searching for your presence as well.
“[Y/N],” you overheard Richard from your side, who was already about to rush outside, “your time to shine.”
“I’m gonna get my rifle.” no time to answer Richard’s self-esteem boosting remark, you turned to Paul, so at least one person would know where you ran off to, and that you’ll be back in less than half a minute.
Every time you have experienced alarms going off, it always meant only one possible thing. The guards on duty were in trouble with beasts, and the trouble was bigger than what they could handle – why else would they call for reinforcement like this? Adrenaline pumped through your veins as you stormed downstairs. A quick thought flew through your mind like a bullet.
Richard was right. It was your time to shine. To prove that you can finally be a hunter.
Chapter 3: Klavier
Graphic description of violence? Sort of. Just letting you know that some readers might find this chapter a little bit disturbing.
But that's dystopia, isn't it?
Just as one mystery gets solved, another ones appear.
The military base door slowly slid open, revealing the five of you. Oli, who wasn’t attending the defense for obvious reasons, had to remind you that he, in fact, didn’t give you any ammo at first. That problem got quickly fixed. Another person who wouldn’t be present was Lina, and in her case, you weren’t really sure why. If there was anyone you didn’t expect to be at the scene, it was Flake. He was there, but of course, he would hold back. He was important, after all, as you didn’t have any other scientist capable of making miracles in medicine.
Paul and Richard weren’t a part of your group, since they were busy in the garage, slowly driving out an armed vehicle with a machine gun on top of it. Besides, they’ve had their own firearms hung behind their seats in case of emergency.
What you saw was nothing extraordinary. About four beasts surrounding two others, which were about half the military base’s height. You made sure your rifle was loaded, and that you had additional stripper clips stored in the pouches of your belt. Sounds of weapons firing and corrupted animals growling, screeching – it was nothing unusual. Hatred filled your lungs and every inhale would only fuel it. That was a state of mind you had to get yourself into before every battle, because there was no going easy on these monsters.
Even though you, yourself, didn’t need any thrill to survive. But you weren’t the only one standing there and war wasn’t about being a solo player.
You weren’t sure who yelled it. Perhaps Christoph, but that wasn’t too important. You launched forward, noticing Flake taking cover behind a huge, heavy bag of sand near the base’s walls. He shared the cover with another guard. They would fire a full offense at a mutated red fox, much bigger than a normal one, but still small in comparison to some of its’ fellows. The bullets barely penetrated its’ rotting, pale blue tinted skin, as it attempted to prey on surrounding guardsmen. At least it was cut off from the rest of its’ pack.
The heavy, dirty combat boots of yours carried you a bit more forward than Flake was. Your immediate instinct was to take on one of the bigger beasts, which happened to be a very oversized boar. Like all other monstrous creatures of this world, it looked like it should have been dead weeks ago, but it wasn’t. Widely opened eyes covered by a yellow mist would look down on the desperate guardsmen, and now on you as well. At some parts of its’ body, the skin has already peeled off and only tendons, flesh and dried up blood could be seen.
It disgusted you. They disgusted you. They were the reason why you couldn’t find a home.
You leaned the firearm’s butt plate against your body, a little below your right shoulder. It took nearly no time for the first bullet to escape, and then attempt to crash into the boar’s skin. Empty bullet cases would fall off to the side each time you fired a shot. Each one that was fired successfully acted as if you would slash the beast with a whip. It would roar and squeal, kick and stomp, launch at the moving little pecks which were attempting to kill it. Its’ roars were absolutely ear tearing and each time it decided to stomp angrily with both legs, the ground below your feet shook.
Feeling someone rushing behind you, making their way even further than you did, you noticed it was Frieda with her brother. They cut you off from another smaller beast, which you couldn’t catch an exact glimpse of. It wouldn’t attack you anyways, but they didn’t know.
As you loaded another ten pieces of ammunition into the weapon, you noticed a familiar figure peeking from behind one of the boar’s relatively short legs. Till was firing at it from the other side, having visibly more distance from the beast than you’ve had.
The interval of your firing has sped up, thanks to which you caught the attention of a guard holding his position a few meters next to you. Why wouldn’t the beast die? Why, once you paid even the smallest attention to the bullets you were firing, did you notice that none of them penetrated its’ skin? It was a rarity to witness a single projectile disappearing in it, or getting stuck if you were less fortunate.
You’ve had enough. What’s the saying? Quality over quantity? No more quick firing, more aiming. You searched for the bare spots which revealed the beast’s meat and tendons. The efficiency of your shots grew and fire rate could have gotten decreased now. The boar didn’t like it. He quickly spotted you, and you realized that his attention was now locked onto whoever stood beside your figure, but you mainly. Eyes quickly shifting to the other guard who was beside you a moment before, you still found him there, seemingly surprised and frozen.
“Run!” you shouted, sprinting his direction while the beast furiously followed you with an opened mouth, terrifying the other soldier with its’ two, insanely big and sharp teeth, “Run, idiot! GO!”
He wouldn’t move. Your feet made you spring up from the ground, as you reached for him and managed to push him aside by force, right before the beast clenched its’ mouth closed. If you haven’t done what you have, the beast would definitely snap him in half right there, a meter or two behind your backs. The realization of what could have happened came over quickly as you collected yourself back on your feet, grabbing the guard’s arm and making him stand up as well.
“Are you okay?!” not letting his arm go, you tried your best to drag him as aside as possible. The young man in service barely understood you.
“Ja!” he exhaled in panic.
“Good, go!” you pulled your hand back to yourself, gesturing for him to run somewhere else, perhaps somewhere safer. He couldn’t have possibly continued taking on such a huge beast in his current state, and appeared to be relieved at being allowed to send himself to a different place.
You only hoped the chaos wouldn’t overwhelm him. You have seen way too many soldier suicides in your life already, majority of them happening right on the battlefield’s grounds.
Just as you sent him off, you turned around to find the beast still facing your direction. Its’ anger, oh dear Lord; you prayed for him to have mercy. No opponent could have become a routine, each one was as scary as if you were seeing them for the first time in your life. The boar’s nostrils expanded as it puffed, growled and huffed in rage. Then its’ mouth opened wide again in a roar. You would have wanted to shield your face from the sound waves, but there was no time for comfort.
You didn’t hesitate and fired five to six shots right into the hell gate’s insides. Upon reloading, you jogged in its’ direction, escaping it through under the beast’s body, with a minimal need to crouch. You could only thank God for its’ enormous size at the moment. Once you found yourself on the other side, your rifle was loaded and you could begin firing again. It took some time for the beast to turn around, and so you had a relative plenty of time.
The exceptionally loud rattling of a machine gun made you jump. When you looked over your shoulder, you discovered Paul and Richard sharing a military vehicle, while Paul operated the gun and Richard slowly drove forward, passing the scene of you holding a battle against the huge wild boar by.
Midway attempting to face you yet again, the monster’s front legs started to visibly tremble.
“Shoot the legs!” you took a role of commander upon yourself for the moment being, requesting and instructing anyone who found themselves in your surroundings. You saw that the command has been obeyed, and it destabilized its’ legs even more than they were before. Then finally, you succeeded at completely undermining the beast’s knees.
Its’ front part of the body dropped heavily to the ground, making it thrill more than ever before. Although it was still alive and breathing, its’ consciousness was slowly going away. Then came the part which you didn’t wish to attend anymore – finishing off a living creature that could already die on its’ own. The techniques used for this part of battle were often harsh and unpleasant, so much that taking part in them or simply watching, sickened you.
A split second after your eyes met with the dying beast, you looked away, knowing that its’ eyes wouldn’t be no more half a minute later. Eyes and ears were the easy way to reach any monster’s brain. The brain was often what fueled it and kept it alive.
Feeling, and strangely enough even hearing a cold breeze swish over your head, you turned away from the scene, just to have Till himself appear in your vision field. Even he wasn’t taking part in what was left to do. The sounds of gunfire and explosions gradually silenced, but the breeze got louder. You couldn’t tell whether something very odd was happening, or if the fight was finally coming to an end. It felt like whatever was dying; you were the part of that whatever.
Why did that sudden wave of emotions flood you? Who was this hunter?
But even he, himself, appeared startled.
“Till! [Y/N]!” you both suddenly overhead from your left side. Simultaneously turning your heads after the voice, you realized it was Paul leaning from their vehicle’s opened window, “Are you both good?!”
Before answering, Till looked at you with consideration. You nodded, from which he could judge an answer.
It was the first time you heard him speak, or well, shout. His voice fit him, and while hearing it and continuously replaying its’ mighty sound in your head, you would stare at the battlefield. It wasn’t lively anymore, as you only barely saw guardsmen putting some beasts’ stiff roots to sleep.
You dropped to the ground in exhaustion, landing in a sitting position. Your knees bent slightly and legs spread wide across the ground before you, you supported your own weight with an arm arched against the ground. Blinking a few times, you let out a sigh. At least the wind’s pleasant whispering wouldn’t stop, as you tried your best to gather all the chaos and adrenaline built up in your body and mind, just to attempt and release it. If there was anything you hated, it was the post-battle feeling of confusion and not knowing where to go.
Pulling one knee towards yourself and resting an arm on it, you scanned the surroundings. All the beasts were finally dead. The beasts. The destruction which was obligated to die for the sake of your survival.
While you were returning, Richard has already parked their vehicle back into the garage. You were actually still sitting outside once he and Paul were finished taking care of it, but not anymore. The punkish boy would catch you off guard when you were so excited to let the rifle rest back in your apartment.
“Hey, [Y/N],” you heard his voice while putting the weapon exactly where you it leaned before, freeing yourself from the belt full of ammunition and furiously taking all the armor pieces off, “do you smoke?”
“You bet,” a sigh escaped your lungs, “but I’m not a frequent smoker. I only smoke occasionally. Why?”
“Do you wanna go have a smoke with me in the garden?”
“Why not,” you shrugged, taking a last look at your room before leaving. The lengthy, yet tiny window was set in the wall right above the ground’s surface, but it was enough to let light fill the space. Then you joined Richard, who would wait for you outside, and together you walked upstairs and headed for the garden, “but I don’t have my own pack.”
This was your first time entering it. To your surprise, three trees were planted across it, making more shadows. Some bushes and decorational flowers were scattered around the grass which surrounded a pathway made of stone. On its’ crossroads stood a statue of an elk. There also were a few benches and stumps to sit on, but you decided to stand close to a trash can. Richard pulled a cigarette pack out, then a lighter out of his leather jacket’s pocket. Handing one cigarette to you and pressing the other one between his lips, the gentleman decided to light yours first.
You weren’t too keen on smoking. One or two cigarettes per three days and you were fine, thus never called yourself a nicotine addict, because you simply weren’t. Before coming to this place, you haven’t had one in a week, and now it showed. Just the placebo effect of the first pull-in gave you a loose sensation.
“So I heard you made this garden because of Oli?” you brought up as Richard stuffed the lighter back. Thankfully, it was certain that this conversation wasn’t going to die out so quickly. You could tell Richard was much more of a talkative type than the tall weaponsmith.
“We did,” Richard confirmed, “as far as I know, the last time he went outside with Till, he almost got killed.”
“I’ve been told so.” you agreed along. A moment of silence and pure, peaceful enjoyment of nicotine gave you both a little break, although there was a lot to say.
In the corner of your eye, you could see Richard looking at you from time to time. It reminded you of being a teenager again, just about to explore how it feels to adore someone or be adored. Richard seemed like the kind of guy to never really grow out of a passion for love, or so you guessed on the first sight. His vibe was just very easy to collect and absorb.
“Do you know smoking is really bad for you?” he threw a coquettish spear of provocation at you, which made you chuckle.
“Then why are YOU the one offering me to have a smoke?” you nudged him playfully, “And I bet you smoke way more than I do. Anyone does, really.”
The two of you shared a small, silent laugh. Richard had other plans for your conversation, however. You came to realize that once he hit a serious note, the kind of note you wouldn’t really expect from a person like him. Not this early into getting to know each other, anyways.
“You saved a man’s life out there,” he stated, recalling back to the battlefield, “great move. That’s what I meant when I told you it was your time to shine.”
“Oh, you… you saw it?” another draw-in got you lightheaded. You weren’t exactly sure whether you liked that feeling or not. It was freeing, yet uncomfortable.
“Yeah, we were just driving out of the garage,” Richard went on speaking, “I could see you really gave it your best. Even Paul was impressed, and it’s hard to impress him in a way that he actually says something.”
“Paul seems a little unnatural to me.” you shared your lunch impressions.
“He’s trying to be nice, really trying.”
“Oh,” you smiled, poking the cigarette so ash would fall off of it. You didn’t want to burn yourself with a hot piece falling off together with the rest unexpectedly, “that ultimately makes him a nice person, though. Just the fact that he is trying.”
Another piece of silence led you to the realization that you were actually listening to birds chirping in the distance, just didn’t pay any attention to it until now. This was new. Back at where you used to live and work, birds were hard to find, and stumbling upon one meant dinner. Remembering it, you grinned in disgust. Was poverty really such a huge thing back in your country?
Thankfully, Richard didn’t notice your memory-induced facial expression. He rubbed the cigarette against the trash can standing nearby, making its’ light completely die out. Being a smoker of much faster pace than you, he smiled.
“You really don’t smoke so often.” he pointed out.
“I told you so.”
Richard suddenly stared off to distance, which tempted you to smoke faster. You didn’t intend to hold him back, make him wait. Honestly, you would rather destroy your lungs. Was your obsession with them letting you stay this bad?
“By the way,” you spoke up, getting rid of what remained from your cigarette as well, “you’re all so very nice. You act so humane to each other, which is rare to me, and you even… gave yourself a name? Is that right?”
“Hmmm?” Richard turned his attention back to you, “What name?”
“Paul mentioned it back then, I think he said something like Rammstein?”
“That name!” Richard’s cheeks widened by the force of his irresistible urge to smile, “It’s the military base’s name. So, we decided to call ourselves like that. Do you know how I told you we are like a family? You could consider Rammstein a family name.”
The rest of the day wasn’t nearly as interesting as what came before. You were glad to be able to spend it locked in your room and getting used to the environment – it wasn’t deniable that at one point, you snoozed on your bed, but woke up shortly after. Some noises from the hallway made you not want to try and fall back asleep again. Instead, an entire truck of thoughts demolished your brain and you couldn’t stop thinking. There were so many things to reconsider, and most of them were about this new place, this new family, about the so called Rammstein people. A memory of Till standing on the battlefield, locking his eyesight with yours, and the wind rushing over both of you. Lina calling you a replacement, and Oliver giving you the most best-wishing, honest looks before you set out to fight the monsters. Not only that. There were way too many moments to remember, pleasant or not, and you had a hard time choosing which one was the most significant.
You wouldn’t even notice the clock on your wall, hanging right in front of the bed, until it was about to be six in the afternoon. How about this time, you would come early, as a compensation for the lunch hurry? You left your bed and the room together with it, hands shoved in pockets, slowly walking to the dining room. When you passed by Lina’s room, a strange feeling crawled down your spine. She was very different from others, but not in the way Till was. Till was curious although non-approaching, but Lina was straight up uninterested and you could tell she disliked your presence. After all, she made it no secret.
When you entered the dining room, food was already served, but many people were missing. That left you questioning – where do the other guardsmen eat? And sleep? You haven’t noticed any other space in this building. Maybe they have had their own a few kilometers away.
You sat down at your usual spot, when suddenly Lina peeked out of the kitchen’s door.
“Just so you’d know, that used to be my place.” she frowned, and disappeared again. You would normally call yourself a laid-back person who is capable of getting along with many kinds of people with a little bit of tolerance, but she was doing nothing to make you want to act friendly towards her. You decided not to waste your energy on retorting.
Were you stupid enough? Yes, you were. You were submissive and stupid enough to actually change places and sit by the other table instead. It was probably better than starting unnecessary arguments. You wanted to avoid Lina as much as possible, and you haven’t touched the food there anyways. You could have moved places without any issues.
Oliver and Flake were already sitting by the table you moved yourself to, and they didn’t seem to mind your presence. Actually, they looked relieved. Would it be too rude of you to guess that they didn’t want Lina around as much as you? You guessed it was natural, the rivalry between two females which don’t click together, like you seem to do with Frieda.
“Good job on the battlefield.” Flake muttered silently, and you thanked him with the same, quiet tone.
Oli restrained from speaking, but he nodded along, to let you know he agrees with Flake. It made you blush, but only slightly. However, enough for the scientist to notice.
“Was Lina sitting here with you during lunch?” you leaned forward to the boys, only out of sheer curiosity.
“No, she didn’t eat with us. She probably ate in the kitchen by herself.” Oli responded.
So that’s why only four of you were sitting there before. The dining room’s environment just made you realize that.
The conversation turned to whispering, when Till entered the room as well. He looked quite confused upon seeing you sitting at his table as well, but obviously realized what was going on in little to no time. You didn’t know whether they’ve gestured something at each other with Flake, or if he simply knew. Nevertheless, you realized what has been going on once the hunter heavily sat down with a huff. Your table was complete, so you could finally touch the food.
“I was just behind the garage. Only if she knew how I could clearly hear all her complaining through the ventilation,” he pulled his plate close to himself, delicately picking up the cutlery, “a bit more of this and I will have to sort things out with her.”
You didn’t understand him at first, until it sparked you that the outside place behind garages is also behind the kitchen. These two rooms were only a wall apart from each other. He was indeed talking about Lina.
“Y-you don’t have to,” you stuttered, also taking a hold of your food, while Flake and Oli were the ones who were already losing themselves in eating, “I can handle it. I’m sure she just has to get used.”
“No,” Till shot you with a gaze that made you feel a little oblivious. How on Earth was he doing that? “You… shouldn’t worry about it.”
As much as the first part of what he wished to say seemed intimidating, the way he finished his sentence assured you that Till actually had good intentions with the entire situation. It made you let out an insignificant “okay” and start eating. He also suddenly looked very startled, and wouldn’t make any eye contact with you for the rest of the dinner. You would have eaten much sooner if it was up to you. The battle exhausted everyone.
Everything went peacefully, until Lina walked out of the kitchen. When she saw you sitting elsewhere and came across where you sat originally, she knew very well you were paying attention to every single move of hers. Lina picked up the plate of food that was originally supposed to be yours, gifting you with an even more hateful glance than she did at lunch. Proceeding to carry the plate away, the girl disposed its’ contents to a trash bin and slid back into the kitchen, almost breaking the revolving set of doors.
Everyone saw what she just pulled off, of course. The entire dining room dived into grave silence; your insides clutched in insecurity. This was all because of you. She wouldn’t have been acting this way if you haven’t come. A blank stare into nothingness revealed your state of mind, while Flake and Till exchanged perhaps the most confused, suspecting glances ever. You didn’t even want to have any suspicions.
Flake sighed with a hearable tremble. You could tell, that although his best efforts to hide it, he got crept out by Lina's act.
“What can we do? She’s ill,” he muttered for only your table to hear, not wishing to risk Lina overhearing him. She already acted vicious to one enemy, two would maybe have her get even more insane, “but we’re not letting her in the kitchen, ever again.”
The young girl really was giving you trouble, you thought when you laid down on your bed at about eight o’clock. For some, this time was laughably early, but today was just a mess. Nothing more. At least Lina was the only person showing hate towards you. It could have been more people than that, so you could still consider yourself lucky.
After all, now that you knew she was ill, you had really no reason to blame her anymore. It wasn’t her fault.
The door to your room opened without anyone knocking, and you would have hated yourself for not locking them just at the moment. When you found out who and why was interested in peeking inside of your little apartment, though, you became a little glad that you haven’t locked yourself up. The head of a smiling Paul made its’ way inside, and above him peeked Richard.
“We just wanted to make sure everything is okay.”
It must have been funny. You, trying your best to portray yourself to them as a collected, independent person who is not to be messed with on the battlefields, and now they were here to witness you tucked into a blanket. Just like a cinnamon roll.
“Yes,” you chuckled, pulling the blanket closer to your face, “all is good, thank you.”
“Good. Goodnight, then!” Paul saluted and disappeared. Richard also said his goodnight and jokingly, or you hoped so, blew you a kiss. It made you smile like a little girl, and you squealed into the blanket once they have shut the door close.
Those visitors were thankfully not to drag you away from the need to sleep. You snuggled deeper into the softness of your bed and closed your eyes with a deep exhale. As you very slowly and peacefully drifted into the realms of asleep, you overheard someone playing an instrument from the neighboring room. It was a piano. The walls softly carried the calming melody to your ears, keeping you awake for an additional short moment. You enjoyed it. If it was Till playing, or whoever, you didn’t want them to stop until you weren’t spiritually present anymore.
You would definitely cheer or say something like “you play fucking great”, but the ability to speak was too much for your body to manifest at the moment. So, you just let it happen, falling asleep to the muffled sound of Till Lindemann playing a dark, yet soothing melody on his piano.
Chapter 4: If You Excuse Me
Why on Earth would Schneider's nickname be "Doom"?
Is Richard even trying to hide anything at this point?
A thrilling morning duty is rewarded by hard work, but lots of fun in the afternoon.
Spring. What a truly beautiful season of the year, you thought yourself, as the hearable wind travelled between trees, making their crowns wiggle. Germany’s avian fauna was lively, which you found strange. How did the birds not turn into those contemptible creatures was a mystery, and a miracle at the same time. This was your first day on a full morning duty as a guard. Frieda would take your place in the afternoon, but now you got to spend some time with her sibling, Christoph. He really came off as a serious guy with a strict passion for his job.
You two haven’t wandered off to the forest anyhow far. The military base was still in a visible distance while you would break wood sticks laying on the ground with each step. Finding yourself not irritated, but definitely intimidated by Christoph’s silence, you wondered whether he would stay this way for the entire time being.
So, your brain recalled back to morning – you performed a morning routine, made a few sit ups and pushups back in the privacy of your apartment, went for breakfast. Nobody except for Till and Oli were there at half past six in the morning, but your shift started at seven, thus it was reasonable to slip into the dining room so early. Mornings were, however, really dull with these people. Nobody really appeared well rested.
And now you found yourself here, getting pulled away from the train of thoughts upon finally hearing Christoph paying you some attention.
“I know this probably might be boring to you, since you used to hunt. But guarding is very important, nonetheless.” he stated. Even though his assumptions were wrong for most part, you were glad for the distraction.
“No, it’s not boring at all.” you reassured him, and he leaned his firearm on his shoulder.
“That’s great,” Schneider would look away, going onto a little rant, “by the way, not many people actually call me Christoph around here. It’s just Schneider, most of the time. My sister refers to me by my first name because it would obviously be weird for her, as we share the same last name. If you can’t remember Schneider, Doom is an option also, I don’t mind either.”
You have already had some views on the people in this district. Everyone was somehow unique in their own way, and although it wasn’t a good thing to do, you could label them depending on the first impression they gave off. For example, Flake was a complex, humble and a little grumpy person, but probably had a good heart – you liked him, and felt you might have things in common. Oli was assertive and silent when it came to finding himself in crowds, but would open up like a book full of stories to you. Nevertheless, he would make a perfect listener. Richard visibly cared for himself a lot, and perhaps seemed to be hiding many things behind the coquettishness and never-ending smiles residing on his face each time he saw you.
Schneider made you feel different.
Most definitely, the guards’ general didn’t have any bad intentions, but none specifically great ones either. To you, he seemed like too much of a chaotic neutral. Maybe the neutrality was caging something within, but you couldn’t tell. Maybe he just didn’t have the opportunity to be somehow outstandingly nice, either.
Soon enough he was about to break this impervious façade.
“Why Doom?” you looked up at him with curious eyes.
“That’s quite a backstory,” he answered simply, “Paul gave that nickname to me when I single handedly took out five monsters at once. It was at the very beginning, just when this military base started operating.”
“Oh?” you raised eyebrows in a surprise, “That’s how long you’re here? Pretty impressive, by the way.”
“Well when you take into consideration the base’s age, it’s only four years. But that’s still an amount of time.”
“So Rammstein exists for four years now?” you asked with a hint of happiness in your voice, finding out that Schneider, in fact, became pretty communicative once you two held an interview-like chat.
Schneider nodded, explaining that over the course of those years, many new personnel have come and went. Some haven’t lasted even a week and had to pack their things, move somewhere else. But some of them have simply died, too, especially because a “new military base was supposed to serve new recruits”. It became just too bad that the new recruits had the duty to battle face-to-face with monsters more aggressive than in most of East Germany. Supposedly, the corrupted fauna wasn’t as bad now.
He also told you that the original recruits arriving in this district were himself, Frieda, Flake, Till, Paul and Richard. Oli joined them a week later as a hunter to accompany Till, but then the inconvenience happened. He mostly minds his own business since the incident, and still likes to hang out with Till despite getting separated in profession.
It came out very obvious that Schneider, Oli and Flake got along very well, though. They’ve had some mindset similarities which made it very easy for them to hang around with each other. You were very impressed when, for example, Schneider told you how he and Flake once managed to communicate using telepathy on a cold, winter evening. It said something about both of them.
“That’s all really interesting,” you said, having a hard time taking in all the information Schneider just spilled over you, “you basically just told me the entire history of this place and how you guys got along.”
“Yes,” his bright smile appeared in synchronization with the Sun suddenly peeking from behind a huge, gray cloud, “so that’s why when a newcomer finds their way to us, we act as if they had no idea what they’re getting themselves into; because we’re right. Most of them really don’t know.”
Schneider made you laugh as you recalled feeling exactly like that on your first day.
“I didn’t know either.”
Out of nowhere, he tightly grasped your arm, pulling you behind himself. You had no idea what he was doing, until you looked in the direction he was looking. And there came the point when you knew you would either have to bite yourself and tell the truth or lie.
The deer that stood a few meters away from both of you, with body half deep into thick bushes, wouldn’t attack. Not attacking was in no way a normal behavior for the beasts; that was one of the basics everyone knew about them. Yet it just stood its’ ground and observed you, as if you were no threat nor a prey. It wasn’t hungry for your living flesh and warm blood, and Schneider couldn’t wrap his head around that.
“Why isn’t it attacking?” Schneider mumbled, letting your arm go. He unsecured his weapon, the same one you had, and aimed at the deer. Something prodded in your brain. You immediately knew you were not to let him do what he was intending to do.
“Schneider, no,” you gently placed a hand on his shoulder, stepping next to him, making sure your moves weren’t too quick and abrupt, “don’t shoot it.”
“Why? Do you know what’s going on?”
His voice was sharp, but that was just a result of his nerves being continuously sharpened each second the deer wouldn’t move. You inhaled and slowly walked forward with a trembly tone filling your sound of speech.
“N-no, but it’s very… obscure for sure,” you said, stopping about a meter or two before the animal. It was big enough to face you on your eye level, and you itched to not try and pet it, despite how disgusting it looked. As long as it didn’t act the way its’ visuals would suggest, you didn’t feel a need to avoid, “can you go grab a gun to narcotize it? Maybe we could bring it to Flake, God knows what kind of research would come out of that?”
Instead, Schneider picked up a transmitter from his belt, stating that he was not leaving you alone with the deer. He firmly requested for Frieda to bring him the very rarely used gun, and she arrived in less than five minutes, presumably out of breath. She had to jog, and for a moment you felt guilty you made her feel like she’s in the need to rush.
For the entire five minutes, you stood close to the deer, maintaining eye contact with it at most. It must have been weird and plot twisting for Schneider to watch, until a dart landed in said deer’s neck. It collapsed almost immediately, being put under anesthesia for a while. That’s what a single dart filled with fluid was capable of doing.
You finally looked back at Schneider, and oh boy, was he as pale as snow. So was Frieda, and she didn’t even have to stand there that long. After a while of silence, she was the one to get you both moving.
“…Was?” she pointed at you, him, and then the sleeping deer in pure confusion and fear.
“Ich weiß nicht.” Schneider shrugged, vigorously shaking his head. Then you interrupted the siblings who seemed to be lost in time and space.
“We have to bring it back to Flake before it wakes up.” you gestured to Schneider to come over and help you pick the deer up. Before he did so, he translated to Frieda what you were up to.
“Ja… Flake, huh,” she shot you with a creeped-out glance, nodding and leaving beforehand, “okay.”
After spending a few minutes trying to figure out how to carry the deer together, Schneider decided to wing the situation with just throwing it over his shoulder. In return, you had to carry his rifle, which wasn’t that much of an issue. He led the way while you followed, trying your best to ignore the weirded stares of many guard infantrymen. You could tell Schneider didn’t like the attention either and was a small bit away from telling them all off. Admitting it however, you did not wish to hear him shout.
As soon as Frieda, who ran back into the guard’s office in the meantime, saw you approaching, she opened the base’s door and allowed you to slip inside without drawing any unwanted attention to yourselves. Although you knew some people saw you, and especially Lina – honestly, you could just feel her presence – you still tried to keep to yourself.
Overbearing the two sets of staircases, Schneider spoke up again.
“I know Flake for a long time now, but I myself can’t tell how he’s gonna react to this.”
He seemed afraid, but you stayed silent. Anxiety tightened the knot in your guts when you knocked on the laboratory’s door with one of the rifle’s barrels. Once Flake opened up, his eyes widened in an extension you didn’t even think was possible.
“What for God’s sake...?” he looked up at Schneider, seemingly not even noticing your presence. It was possible that you were just too small for him to spot your figure.
“It didn’t attack us, so, [Y/N] over here thought,” Schneider’s attempts to be as meek as possible while explaining the situation got followed by Flake’s eyesight landing right on you. And at the exact moment, his expression changed; you could tell that he knew exactly what was up, but didn’t seem annoyed at it, not even tad bit, “I mean, she thought we might bring it to you, so you could run some experiments and maybe find out why.”
“I’ll open the vault door for you.” he let you know, disappearing into his laboratory again. You assumed he was speaking about the secured set of doors at the end of the hallway, and once the loud noise of them creaking while being opened almost scared you, you realized your guess was right.
“You’ve never been there, were you?” Schneider asked while carrying the deer to the place that Flake just revealed.
“Come on! I’ve got a spare cell for additional samples. This one is going to fit right in.” Flake called out to you, and freed you from all and every doubt. You jogged behind Schneider, excited to see whatever that advanced security was hiding. When you finally found yourself inside, your jaw nearly dropped.
At the side of the room was a barred cell with ground covered by hay, dried grass. It had a feeder and probably some bowl for water too. The walls were shaped into a pentagon, with each corner having a red, shining led light attached to it. But that wasn’t the thing that surprised you.
In the space’s middle was a huge glazed canister, precisely locked up and put inside a ceiling-high fence. Inside the container was something you never guessed you would see. Not inside of a military base at least – a hibernating corrupted wolf floating in some kind of fluid. It was so terrifying. Its’ fur was long and losing color, limbs long and sinewy, a boney muzzle with sharp teeth sticking from under it.
Before you realized, Flake already helped Schneider put the deer into its’ small cell aside. You were however too busy with observing the huge monster, which was probably unaware of your presence anyways.
“I’ve never seen that in any other military base before.” words full of shock fell out of you, which only made Flake chuckle.
“That’s because not every district has a Flake Lorenz.”
Schneider was making his way out of the experiment subject room, and you wanted to follow him, feeling like you wouldn’t be safe anymore if you two departed. Flake, however, caught up with you.
“I might wanna talk to you later today,” he whispered, “so stop by and you’ll save me some work.”
“Oh?” you reacted in a rather startled way, “O-okay. I’ll appear, after dinner maybe?”
“Deal, after dinner.”
The scientist gently patted your shoulder as he sent you off outside. You followed Schneider, but given the time, he decided it was no point in returning back outside anymore. You each went your separate ways. That was it for your first day on duty.
Aiming for your apartment to change into a normal clothing, you noticed Richard waiting by your doors again. That boy was just sweet. You couldn’t resist smiling upon seeing him, no matter how neutral you wished to stay. You couldn’t. But at least he cracked a smile as well, not leaving you alone in the swarm of butterflies.
You two greeted, and while taking off all the armor and then closing the door (and also locking yourself, just to be sure), you were almost certain that he wanted to go out for a smoke again. Upon finishing and finally feeling comfortable in your typical style of clothing, you walked out of your room. Richard was still waiting.
“So, what is it that you wish?” you pierced him with a glance, locking your door and shoving the keys into a pocket.
“Let’s grab lunch together and drive to the woods, do some lumbering job,” he offered, “how about that?”
“I was going to get lunch anyways, but, lumbering? What do you mean, you guys chop down trees here?”
“Yeah,” Richard nodded along, both of you setting off towards the dining room, “this place isn’t gonna warm itself during winter, and coal doesn’t do all the job. Besides, our coal hasn’t arrived yet, it’s gonna be here sometime during summer, y’know?”
“Oh, that’s quite different too. We didn’t use to do that, we would always hire lumberjacks in other districts.”
“We could hire some too, but we prefer doing it ourselves,” he informed you, “I told Oli to pack us lunchboxes earlier, because I knew a nice lady like you… you know… wouldn’t turn me down.”
You laughed. It was incredible how this man could make you smile so much in such a short time, but you didn’t mind it; adored it, in fact. Letting Richard be the nice and charismatic person he wanted to be, you picked up your lunch boxes while being nicely greeted by Oli. You and him had a little friendly chat about what you were up to with Richard, and hearing that you got to experience another part of being personnel in this military base, he wasn’t afraid to express how glad he was for you.
By the way, Richard didn’t seem very pleased at the chat you had with Oli. Impatient, you could even say kind of jealous, maybe?
A while later, with Richard by the wheel, you in the middle and Paul sitting on your other side, you unpacked the lunchbox just to be met by a pleasant smell of pasta with pieces of ham scattered everywhere in it. You could tell it was probably fried on a pan, with some egg mixed into the process. That was okay.
Paul was stuffing his face while you only took the first bites, immediately falling in love with Oli’s cooking skills. You already couldn’t wait for the dinner.
“[Y/N]?” Richard spoke up, “It smells so fucking nice, do you think you can feed me while I’m driving?”
“WHAT?!” you asked for something that you’ve heard perfectly to be repeated, mouthful, surprised at the boldness of his. In the meantime, Paul tried his best to keep the laughter at least moderately silent, but you could still tell. Even Richard could, “Come on, you’re not twenty anymore!”
“Please!” Richard stuck his tongue out, making you laugh while you reached for his lunchbox resting on the seat between you and him. You opened it up, not believing yourself that you were just about to obey this risky, inappropriate request. But who were you to deny, really? Perhaps it was only proper to show the guys that you can take fun.
“Okay, but,” you picked up a fork, aiming it towards Richard’s mouth in no time with food pierced on it, “keep the driving safe, yes?”
“Ahh, don’t worry.” he separated the food from the fork, aggressively chomping. It really made you giggle, then escalate into a laugh. You couldn’t believe you were doing it and you made it very obvious to both of them, Richard obviously enjoying it and Paul having a fun situation to observe.
It was quite hard to eat by yourself and feed Richard in the meantime. The vehicle would wiggle from side to side at certain times, and that really became fun; thankfully he was an excellent driver. After a while, you stopped fearing for your life and to your surprise, once you were finished with lunch, you still haven’t arrived at the final destination. According to Paul however, it wasn’t too far anymore.
Once you arrived, Paul made a rather nice remark while jumping out of the vehicle. You followed right after him.
“[Y/N] is a true sweetie, Reesh, you should be thankful.”
You immediately fetched for Richard’s attention, and without knowing that you were looking as well, he frowned at Paul, putting a finger over his mouth to signature for the short friend to keep quiet. Their interactions were entertaining to watch for sure, but lumbering wasn’t all about getting entertained. You figured out the hard work’s taste once having dragged about six to seven dead branches into the vehicle’s back, while the guys were chopping down specially selected trees which looked like not being entirely healthy anyways.
Really wishing to show the best of yourself, you wouldn’t stop until your muscles got sore, even painful. Then you had to take a step back, lean against the vehicle and watch Paul with Richard lumbering. What a nice sight it was. You wouldn’t deny yourself that.
“How much are we doing?!” you would call out to them once getting back into dragging long, thick, heavy, and all kinds of branches to your mobile property. At the time, they were already cutting the chopped down trees into logs with a chainsaw.
“Until the backspace gets full!”
Looking at the amount of space that was left in the back of the military vehicle, you sweated just like that. It was only reasonable to fall asleep between those two on your way back to the base’s safety, once all the work was done and the spacy trunk was full of wood, subconsciously overhearing their little chat.
“This is why I’m glad that we eventually found a way to each other, Paul.”
“Yeah… thinking back, we really couldn’t stand each other.” Paul added to the statement, agreeing. With Richard’s answer, you found out they really knew how to follow up on each other’s sentences.
“And now we almost share rooms!”
“It’s quite funny,” Paul settled in the seat next to you, “it really is.”
When Richard successfully managed to drive back and the sudden movement stop woke you up, it was time to carry all the wooden logs behind the building. That was where they apparently stored all the logs which they would use to heat the place up during winter.
It was a work for all of you, but Richard couldn’t stop overpowering himself with how many logs he can carry at once. Paul would pull outside the branches you have collected and chop them into small pieces with an axe, while you were also onto storing whatever you drove back with.
“Be careful, okay? Don’t overdo yourself with the weight,” Richard mentioned, leading the way while you were both handful with logs, “you’ve already done plenty back in the forest.”
“I’m fine,” you reassured him, “but thanks for the concern.”
When you gently threw the three wooden pieces on a pile amongst other natural fuel, you noticed there were already hoards, enough for two winters maybe. You shook it off by thinking that you’re just calculating wrong and made your way to the vehicle again, Richard already being much ahead of you. It was only logical that you couldn’t keep up. He probably has done this chore so many times already, you couldn’t even dream of the number.
You loaded your arms with as much as you could carry and set out again. This time, you and Richard crossed ways, him going back already free of logs. A small, childish greeting happened between you two, which you laughed off.
Suddenly, you felt warmth coming from behind you, and almost jumped in fright upon seeing a shadow unraveling in front of you. Before you even managed to blink, a pair of strong, rough arms wrapped around yours, taking a hold of the tiny pale that you were carrying.
“If you excuse me.”
You heard that voice again. It sent shivers all across your neck and back, but these shivers felt comfortable. Unable to describe the overall feeling this man gave off, you recognized Till as he picked up the logs and made them his own. He actually carried them behind the base instead of you. Out of sheer instinctive reaction pattern, you rushed after him.
“Hey, Till… You don’t really have to– “
“It’s okay,” he spoke reassuringly, “don’t worry, go have a rest.”
You stopped, standing at one place as if somebody spilled a pot of boiling water right over you. Watching his strong back swiftly getting further and further away from you, and then disappearing behind the corner, you couldn’t point at what exactly you felt. Embarrassment? Gratitude? Weakness? These feelings, they have all melted into one another, filling your mind with a huge, colorful mess.
A very silent, tiny “thank you” slipped out of your lips.
Chapter 5: Anna
Are you really human?
Who is Anna?
Oli’s dinner was just as good as the lunch. The very moments of satisfaction ceased however, when you remembered where you were supposed to go on that evening. Heading out of the dining room, Richard stopped you.
“Do you wanna meet up in the garden in like half an hour?” he spoke silently, leaning close to your ear while walking side by side.
“Sure,” you answered, “I’ll go To Flake’s now.”
“Well… we still have to discuss something about my arrival.” you lied, not wanting to open the topic up while others would swarm around, each minding their own business nonetheless. But it was better to not risk anything.
“Okay, cool,” One corner of Richard’s mouth raised up, “I’ll be waiting in the garden, then, see ya.”
Richard fell into the garden’s doors – what was he going to do in there all that time? You shook it off by thinking that he also needs some time for himself. Soon enough, Flake, who was also after dinner, caught up, silently walking beside you. There was zero need to let others know that you two were off to the very basement. The atmosphere thickened, and he wouldn’t bring you into his lab anymore, going right to the room with his experiment subjects.
Entering there was just as fascinating as it was for the first time, and you felt like that might as well never change. You walked close to the deer’s little wannabe home; it was already awake, but Flake claimed he had to prolong its’ sleep because of how aggressive it would get at him.
“I’m sorry if it caused you any trouble.” you folded arms, looking at the animal, not being able to imagine it in a hostile mode.
“It’s not your responsibility, so don’t worry,” Flake picked up a file of documents laying on the ground, close to the cell, “please don’t assume I am a messy person, I left it here because I was in hurry for dinner. I didn’t want to come any later than I already did.”
“Leaving one pile of papers on the ground doesn’t immediately mean you’re messy, anyways.” you reassured him, after which Flake took no more time to just stand around, and began explaining why he wanted you to visit in the first place.
He tightly gripped on the folder, his hand a little shaky. It really had nothing to do with what he was about to tell you, he was just nervous. You could tell.
“I just wanted to inform you that due to your ability, you might actually promote to a hunter very soon,” Flake shifted the glasses on the bridge of his nose, “eventually, Oliver could join you, but I will have to administrate some experiments first. Not now, however. But you and Till pairing up as a hunter duet has a high possibility.”
Your cheeks heated up, feeling a steam of warm energy flowing down every single of your limb. If you had animal ears, they would rise up high like black flags on a day of someone’s death, and you wouldn’t be able to even attempt and hide anything anymore. Yet still, the state your body entered anytime Till got mentioned, was unknown. You weren’t able to point a finger at it, and say “that’s how the feeling is named!”, no.
Nonetheless, you didn’t even know Till; how could you possibly crush on him? You knew you didn’t. This must have been the chemistry in your brain and nature acting up. Flake noticed, but wouldn’t bring it up.
“That was supposed to be great news... right?” you doubted at what was appropriate to say.
“Yes, but you have to accept the risks of trying new things out.”
“Hunting isn’t new to me.” defensive.
“Not the hunting, that is not what I had in mind, but... ah, you’ll see,” he raised eyebrows, an inconspicuously mischievous smile forming on his face, “and finally, this.”
Flake handed you the two filed papers. Without even knowing what they were about, you listed through them, finding out that you don’t understand any of that scientific, to you, gibberish.
“What is that?”
“To put you in perspective, I ran some tests on the deer’s brain. Since you know about Oli’s unfortunate ability already, I can explain it to you.”
“Well, it will probably be better than have my try to solve this,” you closed the folder, handing it back to Flake with shame. You in no way could have appeared rude, just not capable to find a use for it, “but thank you for making sure I have the information, it’s appreciated.”
“Although the brains of these monsters function mostly to ensure sheer survival, they have a small bit of communication capability still encoded in there. The way they react to Oli is because... he has that part of a brain, too. Not the human communication one, his brain is literally infected with a tiny piece of a beast’s brain,” he suddenly maintained a very tight and intimidating eye contact with you; freezing sensation kept you in place and on guard while listening to his words, “each tiny piece is different. It’s not the entire thing the monsters have, so... a piece one person has can trigger aggression, other can trigger sleepiness, for example, and so on. These kinds can be very destructive as well, very powerful.”
Before trying to answer with anything, you took a deep breath, eyes shifting from side to side anxiously. What Flake just told you was more revolutionary to the mystery of your ability than anything, and it was most likely intentional. You were sure you couldn’t take on any more shocking news, but thrived for more knowledge at the same time. More than knowledge, though, reassurance.
“So it can trigger calmness, too, right? It can trigger them to... not attack, and stand still.”
Flake nodded, watching you as you absorbed the fact that your brain was not entirely what they taught you it is for all humans. He wasn’t enjoying your confusion in any way.
Actually, his eyes spoke empathy, as if it wasn’t his first time seeing a person struggle like that.
“Am I partly a beast?” you spat out the question out of sudden.
Flake nodded again.
“Is that why nobody in my homeland wanted me around?!”
“I can’t know for sure, but quite possibly, that’s the thing.”
Your eyes got glassy, fighting hard to not let a single tear step over those eyes’ corners. You balled palms into fists and clenched them as if you were holding onto something that was not there anymore. Flake couldn’t stay silent for any longer.
“I am sorry if it was all too fast for you,” he stepped forward, placing a hand on your shoulder, but not daring to get any more intimate. This was, in the borders of his morals, the most he could do for you at the moment, “but I didn’t want to be too dishonest.”
“It’s okay,” you successfully pushed back the tears, the crack in your voice barely hearable anymore - there would be time for that later, “Oli knows?”
“Of course he does, but he didn’t have the heart to tell you. Please understand, it would be too strict of him.”
You gently grabbed his wrist and put it away from your shoulder. You were really just about to leave, as this was getting too much. No, your trust was not broken, of course - you were just really shocked at the sudden identity shift experience. It felt like you weren’t you anymore, although you were exactly that for the entire lifetime being.
“Thank you for telling me, Flake,” you forced a smile on yourself, but your eyes told otherwise; they were sunken in fear, “do you know... why?”
“I do not, I am sorry,” he looked away, not resisting you, “if you wanna go now, keep in mind that I’ll get in touch with you as soon as I find out anything new. I will also request you here before you, Till and Oli can go out hunting together, as I am going to need to find out whether it’s possible or not.”
You slowly started taking steps backwards, getting closer to the room’s door. You wished to be outside of this environment.
“Thank you once again, see you around.”
And with those words, you left. Flake probably called something similar after you, but you were already walking fast through the hallway, urging to run, run and never stop, even if it meant dying of exhaustion. Making your way upstairs, you thought you would escape the emotional dimness, but it held onto you like a demon trying to posses your body.
Finally, you were by the garden’s entrance. You saw Richard sitting on a bench, elbows rested on his thighs and hands clasped in one another. He was looking downwards, and you wondered where his thoughts have wandered off to, bursting into the small nature-mimicking place.
“Richard! I really NEED a cigarette right now.” all of the humbleness, perhaps even shyness, dropped, as you let this energetic wave of mixed feelings hit Richard to the guts. He reacted immediately, picking up a pack that rested beside him.
“What happened?” he looked at you, a little started, “I’ve never seen you so passionate before.”
You dropped down on the bench next to him, automatically reaching for a cigarette he was just giving out to you. You stuck it between your lips and let your friend light it, unable to care less whether or not you appeared disgusting to him.
“Ah, it’s just... I don’t even know if I can tell you.” you leaned back, running a palm across your face. That’s when you noticed your movements weren’t still, and your hands were in fact shaking. There was no way Richard couldn’t have spotted it.
“We don’t really keep secrets to ourselves in Rammstein like that,” moving closer to you, he spoke in a soft, warm voice. You didn’t expect it, but his arm suddenly wrapped around your shoulders. Richard was, however, careful with every move, so any physical contact could feel very gentle and calming if possible, “go ahead. Venting might help you feel better.”
“How much do you know about Oliver?”
“I-uh... what?” he stuttered, “we are colleagues for more than four years now, I know quite a lot.”
“Do you know why the monsters react to him the way they do? Did anyone ever tell you why it’s happening?” at this point, even your voice was shaky. You felt like a bomb about to explode, but you were getting forced to let the explosion out piece by piece.
“I do,” Richard pulled you closer to himself, making you feel at least a bit safer, “how does that have anything to do with you?”
“Jesus Christ, Richard!” you almost got too loud for a second, “I am almost the same! And I just found out.”
Swallowing dryness, Richard suddenly backed off into silence. It almost seemed like he was recalling something, even a series of events, which was true. He shifted his mindset into the time when Oli was devastated about realizing what he is really made of; it made Richard afraid you could end up the same. He didn’t wish for that, as there were already too many cries to hear during some nights, and enough sad faces to see during the day.
“(Y/N)? I’m so sorry,” was the first thing he was capable of coming up with, “I’m... I... you... you shouldn’t doubt yourself because of it, okay? It’s just an add-on, it doesn’t really change who you are, you know?”
“But it feels so weird,” you could swear you sobbed, having no mercy on the cigarette which you were holding so tightly, “I don’t feel like I am myself anymore. I feel disgusting. I don’t know if I’m angry at slaughtering a race that is a part of me, or if I’m just not worth fighting on humanity’s side anymore.”
“You are always worth it, (Y/N)! Don’t say otherwise about yourself,” he got too emotional just trying to cheer you up, revealing his deep and well developed empathetic side, “please don’t ever say that, you... you will always be worth it, for everyone in this district, okay? Including me. You’re always worth spending time with, otherwise we wouldn’t be here, would we?”
Through all the complications, you still felt butterflies flapping their tiny wings in your stomach. Richard didn’t stay quiet this time, and continued on.
“Even Schneider told me that you’re something else today. He said you will eventually be essential, remember that. And remember what I said, too.”
That made you smile through the cramps which were making your face rather unpleasantly appearing. The smile developed into a slight giggle, which Richard didn’t understand, not being able to comprehend what made you react like that out of nowhere. He swept it off the table of his thoughts with just having your emotions out of place, but he didn’t know what Schneider witnessed on that day’s morning.
“That’s because I showed him my abilities,” you leaned towards Richard, “unwillingly. That’s why he said it, I think.”
“See? I told you. It’s not a curse. It’s useful.”
That night, you felt incredibly restless. Till has long finished playing the calming melodies on his piano, but you were still awake, left to listen to the uncompromising sound of silence. You drowned it with thoughts which were loud enough to overlap any mantras you often used to help yourself drift asleep.
After an hour of turning from side to side under the blanket and getting progressively irritated by your inability to rest, you decided to go fetch some sleeping pills from Flake.
You sat up, threw the blanket aside angrily and strangely enough, silently stormed out of your room. You were pissed, knowing that tomorrow’s morning shift was creeping closer each minute, and being sleep deprived on the battlefields was not safe.
First, you tried knocking on Flake’s door, but nobody answered. Attempting to wiggle the doorknob, you realized he either locked himself in or wasn’t anywhere around. Off to the lab! That was your last resort.
You sighed, making your way downstairs, trying your best to not wake anyone up. Upon arriving at the destination, you peeked inside the laboratory, even called out for his name. Nothing. Silence. Emptiness, as if Flake has disappeared from the Earth’s surface. You were just about to give up when you noticed the red dim light shining down the corridor - it came from the experiment room.
A primal instinct overwhelmed you, a similar lust you felt towards Till. This was more associable with curiosity, though. You slowly walked to the room and then inside, fascinated by the very sight. The enormous monster was still asleep, and you wondered whether it would ever wake up. Was it even alive?
You were granted with a while of peace just for yourself, admiring something you could call a relative of yours.
That was, of course, until you heard an unpleasant, familiar voice from behind you.
“What did you come here to do? Why are you disturbing Anna?”
It was Lina. Her young, brattish voice filled the room. You sensed danger.
Without any of you two noticing, the caged beast in the middle of the room opened its’ eyes, sight sharply landing on the conflict that was yet to escalate.
Chapter 6: Crying In Terror
It had little to do with romance.
You backed off towards the fence, observing Lina with suspicions. Something didn’t feel right in your bones, telling you that the two characters such as you wouldn’t do any good at meeting in the middle of the night.
“What? What do you mean?” you hesitated, “Who is Anna?”
Lina didn’t say a word, only nodded her head towards the monster behind you. When you turned around and saw its’ strict eyes open, watching you, the fluid in your veins transformed into frozen blood. With zero idea about what is going on, you turned back to the girl.
“See,” she made the typical hmph noise, “you’ve already awakened her. This is your fault. She is not supposed to wake up, she must rest!”
Cutting her words short, clearly pissed and holding herself back from yelling, she quickly walked towards you with stompy footsteps. Lina stopped closer in front of the fence than you, looking up, fearless.
“Lina, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you turned to her, “her name is Anna? You… named it?”
“No,” Lina reached out a hand towards the cage, to which it was impossible to get, “this was the monster that killed my best friend, Anna, and now her soul resides in it.”
You got confused, looking up at the wolf once more. You couldn’t tell whether its’ sight was resting on you or Lina, or both. You could, however, hear it growl at your attention, making bubbles travel up towards the cage’s roof.
“I’m sorry,” you said quietly, “how do you know?”
“I… I…” Lina slowly spun towards you, and you noticed her face disforming in rage, “I just know! How dare you question, you newcomer. You barely know anything!”
Her words struck you with strange feelings. At one hand, you were protecting yourself from taking them personally, but on the other hand, it hurt; the knowledge of Lina’s, probably false, belief, which she is holding onto as if it was her only purpose to stay. Her fingers cramped into claw-like positions, breathing heavily. There was a reason for your brain to prepare itself for defense.
“Anna was a guard, she worked with Doom, Frieda and me, and she was the best guard in the district. You know, one day… we went out, just the two of us. We ran into a pack of beasts like this,” she continued her speech, pointing at the caged, corrupted wolf, “there were too many, so I couldn’t protect her. This exact one. It tore her apart into pieces. I was there. I saw it all. And I couldn’t do anything about it, I had to protect myself until the reinforcements came. It was Doom who shot a dart into this wolf’s neck and brought it here. Together with me, it is the only life form that has survived the battle. Anna must have come back with me. She promised she always would look after me, even after death.”
That was it. Lina completely cornered you, leaving you speechless. There was no way you could tell her that this doesn’t mean Anna’s soul resides within the beast, because that would just be the roughest kick in the guts for her. You felt sad for Lina. Letting empathy overtake you, tears almost took custody of your eyesight, but they disappeared quickly. One confused, desperate, miserable and traumatized person in the room was enough.
It was like staring at a clueless child, who has no idea why their parents never returned from the hospital, coming up with alternative stories to soothe itself with before panic devours the last bits of its’ psyche. This explained almost everything about her behavior, but she ought to tell you more.
“I don’t know why any of them thought you were enough to put you on Anna’s place. Now you’re nothing but filthy replacement, and both Richard and Till are falling for it,” she began frowning even more, just like if she was about to cry, “do you think I can’t see? And yet, you are nothing but a filthy replacement.”
“L-Lina,” you stuttered, unsure about how to speak with her. You wanted to appear as non-threatening as possible, because she seemed to be getting angry just at the thought of you attempting to compare yourself with her deceased friend, “I am so sorry that you had to go through all that, but… I’m not trying to be Anna. I’m not her. I didn’t even know about her until now, and I’ll gladly leave this room if it will make you feel better.”
The beast growled again; this time louder. It made the cage’s glass shake due to the massive soundwaves, and you hoped it wouldn’t break.
“No, it’s too late anyways!” she raised her voice, making her way towards you. Fast. Before you knew it, Lina was tightly grasping onto your arms, digging nails into your skin, “you shouldn’t be here at all, it’s such a disgrace!”
“LINA!” you yelled, partly because of fright, partly because of the pain. You felt blood travelling down towards your elbow and then below, grabbing onto her arms as well and pushing her away. It took strength; she would hold onto you like a tick. Once she finally let go, you pulled away and had only a moment to look down on your bloody limbs.
The girl screamed hateful words in rage, launching at you once again. She jumped onto you, almost making you fall down. Lina would pull at your hair and scratch everywhere possible, and you would always push her away and defend yourself, having the strongest urges to punch and kick her into unconsciousness, but you would probably never forgive yourself if you seriously hurt her.
Until finally, she got a knee to the guts while trying to reach for your face. She backed off with a yelp.
“Don’t go on, Lina,” you trembled, although being much older than the girl. She had such incredible power for her build, probably caused by the lack of morale and knowing borders. Maybe even adrenaline – you thought, because the way she attacked you made it seem like she was fighting for her life, “it’s useless. None of us will get anything from this.”
“But you’re not supposed to be here,” she breathed in, and out, loudly, absolutely delusional, “Anna is!”
And with that, she reached her arm out to punch you, but you grabbed her wrist. That was an easy task, now that you weren’t surprised and expected a fight. You dragged her away from you by the wrist, and if it wasn’t for the fence that stopped her, maybe she would have stumbled upon her own feet.
“Stop!” you walked closer to her, muscles flexed and fury in every movement of yours, blood from your arms dripping down on the floor, “Don’t fucking do it anymore. I’ve done nothing wrong!”
There was no meaning in trying to talk her out of the red mist, and so she tried to get her hands on your face again, but you pushed her wrist to the fence and held it there. Trying the same thing with her other hand, she failed. You wanted all of it to be over so, so much. Besides, the constant reminding of the fact that you were bleeding was making you sick. Blood always made you uncomfortable.
“I hate you!” Lina screamed into your face, tears racing down her cheeks and wetting the collar of her shirt. Some of her grey hair got soaked and stuck to her face, making her look even more psycho than she already was. The whiteness of her eyes cracked by bright red veins, she let you know about the hatred once more.
“I don’t care!” you yelled back.
“Oh, oh,” a smile creeped on her face, eyes piercing through yours, “but you fucking should! Richard is gonna come here soon, he’s gonna see how you’re hurting me! They’ll beat you up, kick you out! You’ll be homeless AGAIN!”
“SHUT UP!” you pulled her wrists away from the fence, then smashed them against it once more with force, “Stop being like a child for fuck’s sake!”
You were way too busy with keeping her immobile to notice the beast raging inside its’ cage. It would bash itself against the glass, but that wouldn’t let the wolf break out. It barked, growled angrily, making the cage shake, but nothing more. It was targeting its’ rage towards the two of you, seeming like it wanted to escape and put the conflict to an end. But it couldn’t.
Another thing slipped without catching your attention. What you thought was just Lina wiggling her wrist in attempts to free herself, was actually her reaching the tips of her fingers towards a red button attached to the fence. Once she managed to press it, the heavy door began closing down. The red lights in the room started flickering, too.
“What?” you scanned the surroundings, squinting eyebrows, “What did you do?!”
“You won’t escape this,” she snapped at you, twisting her wrist to the point they slipped out of your grasp.
You didn’t expect her to do that, but you had to remember that she also was a guard. She also had the same training you had, although probably just less experience. That, however, didn’t mean she had no idea how to fight.
“I don’t care anymore, Lina,” you shook your head in disbelief, “we’re gonna end up killing each other if you don’t stop right now.”
Darkness taking turns with red lightning each second, it was hard to guess Lina’s movements. She went after you headfirst, but you dodged and a simple elbow to the back put her to the ground. You stood above her as she tried to pick herself up, but you wouldn’t let her.
Then she grabbed your ankle and pulled; before you could blink, you hit the ground as well, with Lina clawing her way on top of you this time. You gripped onto her shoulders and pushed her aside, making you exchange positions between being on top and bottom. You were above her now, trying to hold her down, and shout some sense into her stubborn mind.
Feeling a kick, and another one, right above your crotch, you yelped in pain, tightening your legs around hers so she could barely move them. It became a conflict of overpowering each other, Lina making your wounds even deeper and worse as her only way of keeping her game up, and you resisted, holding on, not wanting to hurt her. The blame would be on you if something serious happened to her. Eventually, you barreled over once again as your arm muscles gradually lost strength.
“You’re one of them!” she cried out, “You’re one of the motherfuckers that killed my best friend! You’re responsible for Anna’s death, let her witness a revenge!”
You underestimated it. You underestimated how weak your arms can get when someone punctures them this badly, and it makes you sick as well. Because of that, you had to use any other parts of your body to have her roll to the side, but it was no use. She was obsessed with the intention of hurting you to grave, she would always crawl back and push you to the ground again before you could get up.
Using the moment of Lina not holding your hand, you punched. The hit landed perfectly on her cheek. It was exactly the time to stop caring about seriously wounding her, because you were sure she was about to kill you if you didn’t take brute action. As she held onto her cheek, you finally pushed her away and moved yourself further.
Then the door began sliding open. If you could manage, you would let out a sigh of relief. Before even spotting who stood in the door and rushed themselves in as soon as there was enough space, Lina was thirsting for your blood again, stretching out an arm to prepare for a comeback punch. Before it hit you, you caught her fist into your palm and fought to not let her get to you anymore.
I just have to hold on now, you thought to yourself, hearing the approaching footsteps. The force on your hand suddenly disappeared when a pair of skinny-ish hands wrapped around Lina and pulled her away with a struggle, freeing you. You dropped arms beside your body and looked up, the lights still flickering, making you even sicker. A figure suddenly appeared over your field of vision, and you finally spotted a familiar face. A face that didn’t look like it wanted to murder you while feeling no remorse.
He knelt down to you, helping you sit up. You heard his voice accompanied by Lina’s chaotic screams in the background, but you were able to ignore those for now.
“Jesus fucking Christ, [Y/N],” Richard held you in his arms, not letting you drop down again, “you look pale as fuck, what the hell happened?!”
You heard fear. Did you really look that bad?
“The blood makes me sick,” you said with a raspy, shaky voice, “and it hurts. But it’s fine besides that.”
“What happened?” he hungered for answers, afraid, confused.
“I wanted to go to Flake’s for sleeping pills, but he wasn’t here and the door was opened, so… I thought I might take a moment to look, but then,” you gasped in pain, holding onto the wounds Lina has marked on you with her own nails, “Lina probably followed me here and I can swear to God that she tried to kill me.”
“[Y/N].” Richard’s voice weakened as he pressed his lips against the top of your head, and suddenly you felt a shake in his hold as well.
Another arm now slid under your knees, and without you expecting it, Richard picked you up into his arms. Although you verbally reassured him that even though the incident shook you, you were able to walk, he insisted on carrying you away from the place.
For a few seconds, your blurred sight landed on the caged beast, still squirming in the little space, angry, raging towards where Lina and Oli were sorting things out between each other. You couldn’t imagine Oli getting angry, so you didn’t want to ruin this for yourself and turned away before seeing enough to remember his furious gestures and facial expressions. You wondered if Lina knew that he’s almost the same as you, but being almost certain that he could overpower her if anything went wrong, freed you from most of the worries.
“Let’s go,” he spoke, anger, fear and relief all mixed in his voice, “Flake is off duty, we’ll handle it together in his laboratory by ourselves.”
“And what about Lina?”
“I don’t know,” he sighed, “Oli will calm her down. She obeys him. Not as much as she obeys Till, but… it will do.”
You entered the scientist’s workplace, and Richard wouldn’t turn around to close the door behind himself until he made sure you were sitting safely on a chair. The exact same chair Flake ordered you to sit on during your first interview. Back then, you wouldn’t have guessed nor even thought about that you would come back there in such a state.
Blood kept dripping from your arms, but at least much less than before, now that your muscles could rest and not tighten while trying to resist someone else’s force. Whatever needed to be done to take care of the injuries, you would do yourself, but given that both of your arms were basically crippled and every movement hurt, you had to leave it to Richard. A wave of embarrassment filled you at the same time, but you were grateful to be finally taken care of after such an experience.
When he returned from the door, he opened a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of disinfection together with some sterile tissues. All Richard did would happen in complete silence and concentration in order to overcome his stress. You could tell just by looking; he was so afraid, and if it was because of you, you felt guilty. But if not him, who else would storm there and save you and Lina from each other?
“I’m really sorry, Richard.” you shattered the silence, watching him spill drops of the disinfection on one of those tissues.
“There’s no reason,” he squatted in front of you, gently tapping the wounds on your arms with the tissue. It pinched like hell, but you stayed silent, as this was not your first time getting any possible infection burnt out of an injury, “let’s just be glad that you both survived. Lina is… dangerous. Her appearance is just a disguise, and her state of mind just adds to any insanity fueled strength she can generate.”
“How old is she even?” you tried your best to not watch any more of the bloody work.
“Ah,” leaning your head backwards, you squinted eyes, “what a shame. I’m a decade older and couldn’t pull it off.”
Richard’s sight turned up to you, and he appeared more relieved now that he saw you making jokes. It helped the atmosphere loosen up and that made the entire process much easier for both of you. Nonetheless, you were still quite shocked by the fact that either you or Lina could have just had your necks snapped if it weren’t for Richard and Oli.
Near death situations weren’t new to you at all and this was merely a flesh wound case, but you doubted anyone with functioning self-preservation instincts could get used to escaping death in such risky ways.
After he was done with disinfecting and cleaning up the blood from your arms, he went to throw the tissues away and get bandages. Upon coming back with them, he gently covered both of your upper arms in them, making sure it’s not too tight nor loose.
“I know she probably told you some really mean things,” he said, helping you stand up from the chair. You somehow convinced him that you’ll be able to walk upstairs by yourself, but he would make sure you arrived to your room safely, “please forget them. Forget Anna. Lina talks nonsense, but we can’t really break it to her.”
“I understand.” you said, walking through the dark corridor. The vault door was shut close already and Lina was nowhere to be heard.
As you made your way to the apartments, you got a strange feeling of intimacy flowing between you and Richard. It was nowhere close to lust or thirst, but despite the constant lying to yourself and acting like you’re very fine and unscratched after what went down, you felt weaker than usual. It made you emotionally lean onto Richard. Hell, your entire today was about leaning onto him, and you felt like really owing him for that.
Walking beside each other, closer than usual, you could feel the warmth of his body. Then, out of nowhere, as if your own sense of judging what’s appropriate and what’s not blindfolded itself, your hand searched for Richard’s until they finally touched. In no time, your hands were clutched together, fingers intertwined in each other like tree branches in some very thick forest.
And yet, it had little to do with romance. It was about you wanting to feel safer and Richard granting you the opportunity to allow such thing to happen.
When you finally arrived to your room, none of you really wanted to let go from holding hands, but so far you would have to. If anyone saw you, they would totally get the wrong idea, and you didn’t wish for that. You opened your door just to find out that the light was still on and the blanket thrown aside, just the way you left it.
“Thank you.” you looked up, locking sights with Richard.
“Don’t,” he kept holding on, “you’re having a hard time now. There’s no denying that, you’re in the right to be getting help, here and there.”
“Yeah,” you exchanged glances between your room and Richard. It wasn’t easy to admit, but you truly didn’t want to go. Feeling like a young teen again, you had all the urges to organize a small sleepover, because after all, you were truly somehow afraid of spending the rest of the night alone. You didn’t get hands on the sleeping pills, and falling asleep after this would be even harder; after a moment of silence, you finished what you had on mind, “can I… ask you for one more thing?”
“Always ask, go on.” Richard’s eyes lit up.
“Can you stay here just for tonight?” upon saying it out loud, your cheeks gained a red shade, but you couldn’t look away from his eyes, “I don’t mean anything like… you know, I’m just, I don’t feel like I’ll be able to fall asleep if I’m left alone in my room, with my thoughts and... memories of today.”
“I understand,” Richard tightened the hold of your hand, carefully stepping over your apartment’s threshold, “more than you think. That’s why Paul and I almost share rooms.”
“Is that so?” you followed him, silently closing the door.
“Yes,” he confirmed, “every person you see here is much more fragile than they seem. A request like this is no exception, really. Just wait a few nights and you’ll hear someone screaming in a cry from several rooms away, sadly… it’s really common.”
“Well,” you looked down, sitting on your bed and covering yourself with a blanket to later lie down. Richard, in the meantime, moved a chair closer to the bed, and after shutting the lights off, made himself comfortable sitting down on it as well, “we are in war. It can’t possibly be easy.”
“I know,” he rested one hand on his thigh and put the other one on the edge of your bed, “but I’d rather spend a night here than hear such a cry.”
“It’s painful to hear cries.” you finally laid down.
“Or when you’re the one crying,” he wondered, brainstorming out loud more than actually saying something he has thought through, “it kind of reminds you of when you were a little baby, and you cried in your cradle. Then your mother or father came to you and took care of you. It’s really just so similar, you know.”
“But you can’t really blame yourself or be ashamed of yourself the next day, because everyone is like that once in a while. We’re not citizens who lead peaceful lives, we have reasons to have nightmares, and many times the nightmares are real.”
“That’s exactly why we cry in terror.”
One of your hands crawled from underneath your blanket and found Richard’s. When he felt your touch, he immediately squeezed your palm in his, reconnecting the safety bond you two established while still in the hallways. After all, it was calming you down and had the same effect on him, as the topic you’ve chosen to talk about wasn’t really pleasant on its’ own.
Richard began softly caressing the skin on your hand with his thumb. It was reassuring you that he is there for one purpose; the purpose being you. You could finally close your eyes before exchanging some last words.
“I’ll have to drive lumbering tomorrow morning, so I’m gonna tell Schneider you’re not coming. And Flake will probably want to see the wounds, too,” he informed you, “if you’ll have nobody to talk to, Oli is always here. You two are probably going to feel much more comfortable together now that you know… who you are.”
“I could go on duty tomorrow. It’s probably gonna be okay.”
“You can’t know for sure,” Richard refused, “seriously. In life, you learn that you don’t have to be perfect all the time, even though it’s hard to admit it to yourself. Sometimes you can’t go hundred percent and shine, sometimes you got to go only fifty percent so you could shine another day.”
“Hm,” you smiled into your pillow, “if you say so.”
Silence rested between the two of you for a moment, until some kind of a silly thought circled through your mind. You thought for a moment, whether you should say it out loud or not, although it genuinely interested you. There was a catch in asking without making it sound suggestive, though.
“Hey,” you whispered into the darkness, “Richard?”
“You can just call me Reesh.”
“Do friends hold hands like this?” your voice peaked on a higher note, your eyes trying to search for a hint of his figure. There was nothing but void, but his voice soothed it.
“I don’t know,” he yawned, “maybe some do. Just some.”
“Also? Stay away from Till’s sight as long as you have the bandages. He will lose his shit if he sees that, or the wounds.”
Chapter 7: Two Galaxies
"I won’t waste a single second of my life being without you anymore."
NOTE BEFORE READING: This chapter contains the following stuff which some readers may not be comfortable with:
*The use of alcohol
*A softly described sex scene
Please consider these. Thank you!
The sound of knocking at your door woke you up from a peaceful dreaming session. Before you let yourself be disturbed, you took a few seconds for yourself to recall the dream that was too welcoming to forget. It almost felt like it would invite you into its’ realm again, once you fall asleep in another fourteen hours or so.
At first, there was nothing but bright, blue light. Soon enough you realized it was because you were laying on your back, facing upwards at a cloudless noon sky. Suddenly, a rough, warm hand wrapped and spun around yours in a balmy movement. No squeezing, no tight holding, only gentle embracing. Butterflies flapped their wings as if the entire thing was real, and you let yourself get carried away by the sedating sensation, not even knowing whose hand was it.
The fire inside of you burned, and for a second a picture of fireplace flashed in your forehead. That’s how the yet unknown company made you feel. A flame, tamed enough to not let you freeze; don’t you ever wish to untame it. The forests would burn, ground would get covered by a blanket of ashes and birds would sing no more.
A shadow swallowed a half of you, as the figure laying next to you, caressing your hand, turned to their side to face you. Their entire body was like a fireplace. You never wished to leave, and as the wind flew by, you appreciated the heat even more. Turning your head, there was nobody else than him. The hunter. Now that you were aware of your similarity towards the monsters, you weren’t sure why you were even seeing him anymore, why you still felt the primal lust to become one with said man.
Some hunters look at their very victims as if they were after owning their lives, becoming the right hand of mortality that shall decide whether you live or not. In majority of the times, you don’t live on their decision. Now, you were the young deer, being looked in the eyes. You got confused, though - this sight was much more consensual and intimate, not scary, thrilling, or making you afraid of death. But after all, you were the prey. Only if he knew.
Was this how looking into your killer’s eyes felt, in the end? Was nature kind enough to grant you inner peace at the very last moments of your physical existence?
Maybe. Maybe that was true, or he wasn’t intending to harm you.
“Survive,” his mind told you, no need for him to part his lips or open his mouth, “together.”
With that, the heat grew stronger and stronger, pinching at your skin, sending shivers to dance and stab along your spine. Smoke and dust filled the air, but you didn’t feel like suffocating whatsoever. The privacy, the connection, both turning your backs to the outside world, was all that mattered - and before the hungry flames ate you alive in the most gruesome ways, you woke up in sweat.
But you still couldn’t label the dream a nightmare.
Another series of knocking pulled you away from the sweet recalling of the otherworldly experience and making sure you won’t forget it. You really wished to hold onto the memory as long as possible, just for the sake of exploring all these new feelings which were unknown to you before becoming a part of Rammstein.
“(Y/N)?! Are you okay?” you heard from the other side of the door. It was Oli, who probably wanted to check on you after yesterday, “If you don’t answer, I will come in myself. Your door isn’t locked.”
That wouldn’t be great at all, if he entered the room and saw you being a mess in your bed. You immediately called out to him in a response.
“I’m good,” you said loudly, “can you wait for me in the hallway? I’ll be out in no time.”
You sighed, looking at the clock on your wall. It was nine in the morning - what a shame. Just in time to grab the last bits of breakfast, because you doubted anyone has left any food especially for you. Maybe Oli would have had a share, nonetheless, you remembered the small letter Till has left for you at the very beginning of your stay.
You got out of the bed, still feeling your bruised arms. It was hard to wrap your head around how much harm one teen can do with simply pointy fingernails, remembering very clearly that they felt like tiny knives. After all, though, it was funny - not even a week since arrival and you’ve already gotten into a girl fight. How lively.
Once you dressed up and made sure you look at least decent in the mirror, running a hand through your (H/C) hair a few times, it was time to go. You grabbed your keys, went out and locked the door, since Richard was probably too unsure to do that himself. Recalling his picture from the night, you got a little sad that he won’t be here until lunch. Actually, lunch was the earliest possible time of him and Paul coming back.
“Glad to see you, (Y/N),” Oli seemed a little insecure at finally coming to an interaction with you after all that happened, “how are you feeling?”
“Besides the arms hurting with every move, it’s cool,” you smiled, reassuring him that despite all the discomfort, you were still capable of doing your job at the military base, “bet you I’ll be back on duty tomorrow.”
“I’m happy to hear.” he returned the smile, slowly walking away from your apartment. Without even asking you, he led the two of you into his underground kingdom - the armory. There were two cups of tea already prepared on one of the tables, together with two wooden chairs set around it. One cup was also accompanied by a toast on a plate.
You sat down and made yourself comfortable, sniffing the smell of the toast. There was cheese, ham, and all that perfect stuff for a morning eating.
“Thanks, is that what’s left from the breakfast?” you laughed, hitting at the fact that although never experiencing yourself, you have an idea about how things go with breakfasts. It wasn’t too different from other districts, after all.
“Somehow, yeah.” he took a sip, glancing at you for a short moment.
“What do you mean?”
“Till saved it for you, he brought it here and told me to give it to you once you wake up.” all of sudden, Oli appeared suspicious. It wouldn’t be you if you haven’t decided to dig deeper into it, especially after Richard told you to stay away from the hunter until the wounds disappear at least into scars.
“So he knows what happened?” you took a bite, raising eyebrows.
“No,” Oli shook his head at the imagination, probably knowing the same thing Reesh did while telling you, “we just told him that you are off duty because Flake still has to run some tests with you. We’re not stupid enough to tell him truly what happened.”
You nodded, admiring how reliable the boys were to each other. At the same time though, you felt bad for Till, and wondered why it was so necessary to lie to him.
“And what if you did tell him?”
“No,” his head motioned from side to side again as he closed his eyes in denial, “you don’t wanna know. He would get very angry, not at you though. He would be furious at Lina of course, but because he simply can’t even imagine hurting her, his anger would get spilled elsewhere.”
“Like?” at this point, Oli must have been already feeling a bit uncomfortable with your nosy questions, but also understood your curiosity.
“Nobody can ever predict that,” he shrugged, “maybe Flake would get it, because he wasn’t present and left the vault door to the wolf open. And then maybe me or Richard, because we didn’t think that Lina was following you to try and hurt you. We thought you two went together, or that maybe Lina picked you up to walk her to Flake’s because her psyche is acting up. There was really no guess that you weren’t aware of her at first, otherwise none of it would even come down.”
“Oh, so that’s how you knew where to go at least,” you jumped from one topic to another, “that’s great. You both rushed in just in the right time. My own body was giving up on me.”
“Underestimated her?” Oli gave you a look of empathy, as if he knew exactly what his words were about, slightly letting you know that you weren’t the first, nor the last one, to ever make such a mistake.
“That’s okay,” he waved his hand to gesture that it shouldn’t be a big deal for you anymore, “her looks deceive. She’s very smart when it comes to this, knows where to hurt and such. I wouldn’t wanna fist fight her myself.”
You finished your breakfast in almost no time. All the physical output and overall lack of rest made a mark on your body in the form of silent hunger. It would be much better if Till knew how hungry you were, maybe he would have brought two toasts instead of one. Only contemplating this topic made you subconsciously smile like a fish on the hook; Oli noticed, but stayed silent, considering your change of expression none of his business.
“That’s the same tea you made for me earlier?” you asked before taking a sip, but Oli’s answer was once again negative, with a keen expression in his face.
“No, this is black tea. Some people drink it in the morning instead of coffee, so I thought it would be perfect since Richard nor Paul are here anyways.”
“Oh?” your attention woke up, “You haven’t told me about Paul’s coffee skills.”
“Ah, it’s just that they really like to compete. Not as much as before, but once you start with a habit it’s really hard to just leave it.”
The friendly morning chat between you two went on and on for about half an hour more. Growing more and more comfortable around each other, you finally recognized Oli as someone who isn’t there to just help when needed, but actually a character that is significant in the place, despite his silent and ulterior attitude.
One pattern still fascinated you - how he would not ever make a sound while in a bigger group of people, but would spark with thoughtful ideas and opinions, holding meaningful conversations once only two or three of you would sit together. At the thought of having enough time to get to know everyone in such a way, and make everyone this unique in your head, the excitement within you grew. None of the Rammstein people were cardboard and two dimensional, including yourself.
Slowly but surely, your conversation moved towards the topic of beasts and how their genes mix with human ones. Oli seemed to know more than he would say, but every word he let out was precisely chosen and without his allowance, you wouldn't be able to dig a hint out of his mind.
"And how do you deal with it, good?" he wondered, settling both elbows on top of the table.
"I can't tell," you had no idea how to describe the way you felt about yourself, "it's weird to accept it, of course. I'm not who I used to be, or at least I feel that way."
"But you were exactly this all the time, you just didn't know. Besides the awareness, nothing has really changed."
You nodded along, folding arms on your chest, "I know. But I suppose the way you've dealt with it also wasn't a walk through Eden."
He agreed, stating that all he meant to do was pass wisdom and advice to you, so your body walk through the acceptance was a little easier. When you asked him if there was anyone else with these abilities, he said he knew no one, but the tone in his voice changed.
Nearly certain that he was hiding something from you though, you didn't blame him. At least there was the trust that he's not acting this way because of wanting to cause harm; he probably just wanted to avoid it instead.
"So then only the two of us are kind of like relatives," you easened the atmosphere, "that's cool, isn't it? Like brother and sister."
"I've never had a sibling." his head tilted downwards, hiding an innocent, irresistible smile. What you said has probably flattered Oli in a sense, and that made you happy as well. There was perhaps nothing more beautiful than making someone smile in such world.
"Well now you do have one," you shrugged, flailing your arms slightly in the air, "technically."
“Can we even call each other that when we’re not related by blood?” Oli wondered.
“Who cares, really.”
“It’s weird,” he stated, “but not in a wrong way.”
Your morning spent with Oli quickly passed by and soon enough, you, him and Flake were enjoying lunch before everyone else would storm in to eat and then storm back outside to continue their work. You hoped that maybe you could finally make yourself useful in the afternoon, but as soon as Flake heard you even hinting at it, he put a clear, verbal stop sign right to your face. According to him, too much force and pressure output could make the wounds bleed again, and remembering how dizzy you felt last time it bled, you decided to obey Flake.
Long sleeves covering your arms, you felt safe when Till entered the room. The three of you exchanged glances before he sat by your table and so, you immediately recalled the dream. Without realizing it, you got lost in staring at him, until it was too obvious for Flake to notice. He shot you an indescribable facial expression and you looked away, sighing.
You thought about it for a moment, and came to a conclusion that maybe it would be benefitting to ask Flake if Till has anything to do with your abilities, and if they may be the reason why his presence makes you feel in such a way. Then again, it would just be funny if he simply told you, “what do you mean, (Y/N)? You’re attracted to the man. Why should there be any science in that?”
And with that, you brushed the thought off as something you weren’t going to make happen.
The lunch was soon over. You had to admit that Flake as a cook was decent, although you would have never guessed. Before everyone, now even Oli, took off to work, you heard some words rustle about unwinding in the evening. You had no idea what that meant, but given it was Friday... Nevermind. You would see eventually.
“You know you don’t have to be alone just because I’m gonna work in the armory now, “ Oli caught up with you, and you got happy at his kindness, “you can stay there even while I am working.”
“It’s cool,” you headed towards your apartment, “I can entertain me myself. It’s not like I’ll die of boredom.”
“Good, but if you need anything, then please stop by,” he informed you, stepping into the armory, “the door’s always open for you here, you don’t even have to knock.”
“Alright, that’s great,” you chuckled, “see you around then, and thanks.”
You realized how happy you were about the existence of people like Oli while you looked for a pen with a notepad in your room. Upon getting your hands on those items, you left to proceed on even a downer level of the building. Assuming Lina wouldn’t follow you anymore, you remembered that Flake will thankfully be present in his laboratory at least until he has to make dinner. But the laboratory wasn’t what you were aiming for - it was the room behind a set of heavy, opened door, leaving you wondering why anyone who was in charge of it didn’t close the place up after tonight. Anyways, the fact that they haven’t shut the door close came to your advantage.
Slipping inside, you recognized the beast sleeping soundly in its’ cage made of glass. Eyes locked onto the creature, your back slid down along a wall as you sat on the ground, legs spread in front of you. After a moment of admiring the living destruction, its’ eyes opened again, but this time, it remained as calm as a sheep. Even the deer peeked out of its’ place to witness your presence, but none of them minded you.
It felt so strange, knowing that you have murdered so many of them mercilessly, yet they still forgave you and didn’t crave revenge; given that they have somehow known of what you’ve done. At this point, you didn’t wish to underestimate anything. Each day in this district was a surprise in its’ own sense.
The wolf observed you and you observed it, a mutual energy of attention dancing through the free spaces between you. With a notepad on your lap and a pencil in your hand, you scribbled, portrayed, wrote poems and thoughts, drew and sketched - any piece of art that got born under your palm on that day revolved around the beast and your connection to it. That’s how you spent your afternoon. Six hours of sitting on your ass and admiring, yet time’s relativity came to play and you wouldn’t have known so many hours have passed by, even taking a small nap and occasional bathroom breaks. After those and getting some tea from the armory as well, you would always return back to your “work”.
Seriously though, who else would have slept in the presence of something like a dangerous, zombified animal? Perhaps just another dangerous, zombified human. This kind of consideration tried to kiss you by the end of your stay, but you slapped it as soon as possible.
Before returning back to dinner, you went through the oh-so-many pages you have tainted with your passionate desire to record what was in front of your eyes; a seemingly impossible task, but you tried your best. You could swear to God that you haven’t taken this much of notes back at school, and now here you were, marking half a notepad while being in the strangest flow of your life. At least now you knew that the state of flow really existed and it wasn’t just a thing made up by spiritualists.
Afterwards, you felt really cleared of the mess that used to reside in your brain since the moment Flake has set different boundaries to your personality. You spilled all of that onto sheets of paper, and whoever would be granted the allowance to gaze into those, would automatically gaze into parts of your mind. That was one of the things which endlessly fascinated you when it came to art.
And then, you entered a perfect setting for your cleaned up mindset without even expecting it. The dining room was filled with the smell of booze and when you finally looked at Richard, his cheeks were filled with reddish color and the look in his eyes wasn’t so heavy anymore. Being able to say the same thing about most of the attendants, you understood the mentioning of an “unwind” earlier that day. Taking a seat by your table, a beer stood by everyone’s plate of dinner, including yours. Somebody was already kind enough to prepare it for you, and you grinned.
“(Y/N)!” somebody from the other table called out to you.
“What?!” you looked back over the shoulder, spotting Paul raising a hand at you.
“Do you think that, back where you… came from,” his speech was loud, but stuttery. It made you keep the grin, “that the beer there was good as ours?!”
“I don’t know,” you grabbed your half-liter glass of pure, German beer, “I shall find out, shouldn’t I?”
“Do it!” he sat back down and watched you fearlessly gulp down the beer, until you’ve had enough, glad that nobody thought it would be a good idea to heckle you into exing it. After placing it back on the table with a loud thud, you nodded in approval.
“It’s so great!”
That was enough for a group of people sitting with Paul to start cheering, some yelling that they’ve won the bet and some cursing at defeat. Watching them celebrate and shout, you noticed that Lina was missing, and it would be unlikely for her to be in the kitchen. Maybe the atmosphere which you were beginning to really like, was just an annoyance for her. After all, you couldn’t care less.
Turning back to the food, it disappeared in your guts faster than you would have expected. Flushing the taste down by the rest of your beer, you almost immediately asked Oli where you could refill. Instead, Till took your glass without asking and excused himself to the kitchen. When he returned, he was carrying a box of beer and other alcohol bottles.
“Only pussies don’t get shitfaced from full-on bottles!” Schneider shouted jokingly, and some, even you, responded with a laughter.
Till placed the box on your table and before the sheer existence of his character allowed anyone to grab a bottle, took one out, opened it against the table’s edge and handed it to you. Before you realized it, everyone swarmed around, thirsting for more booze, for keys to the gateway of not having to mentally suffer for one night. Well, the lucky ones would get so drunk to the point they can’t think properly anymore. Other ones would have to bear being a depression drinker; you for sure weren’t one of those, at least.
“Liquor before beer, never fear.” Flake told himself as he cradled a bottle of Jägermeister in his arms.
“Could you pour me a shot too?” you asked him as soon as spotting it, although you had your own stuff to drink. He was right about drinking something harder before downing a beer bottle, anyways.
“I’ll be pouring everyone.” he waved his hand, and in an unrequested cooperation, Oli showed up behind him with handful of empty drams. Flake filled them one by one like a champion, after which you raised the tiny glasses to the air.
“Waidmanns Heil!” everyone shouted in synchronization, and raced for who will take the shot faster. There was of course, no winner.
The evening’s mood sucked you in quickly. From the dining room, the entirety of you moved into the community room, where speakers stood. Richard dug through a pile of CDs which would lay next to them, and eventually found a fitting one after Paul kept speaking into his choice of music. When you heard the first tones, excitement gushed out into your veins, and you immediately had to let the guys know that you knew this German band.
It was nowhere close to club music, but it was enough, fitting the nature of all eight of you present. Till sat down on one of the chairs and, hand balled into a fist, tapped against his knee in the music’s rhythm. Paul and Richard have decided to have a match in darts, and whoever would lose would have to down three shots of vodka.
You weren’t sure who, but somebody had the excellent idea to turn off the lights and instead let the effect lighting from the speakers blick through the room. It reminded you of party lights a little, even though these were weaker. But at least you were impressed by the fact that the speaker had colorful flashlights built into itself. Not everyone like it, though.
“We can’t see the darts,” Paul spoke up and you saw him for some time, enlightened by yellow and red lights taking turns, “moron! Turn the lights back on!”
“No no, keep it this way,” Richard patted his small companion’s shoulder and walked to the corner of the room, picking up a flashlight. He set it on the armrest of a sofa that stood opposite to the darts target, so in that way they could still somehow see what they were throwing at, “do you think this will do, Paul?”
“Aaaaaah, I don’t know,” he stretched, tightly holding a set of darts in his part, “we can try, but whoever turned those lights off is still a moron.”
“I am not!” you overheard Oli answering them from the other side of the room.
You yourself were standing back against the wall and observed what was possible, overheard various conversations. It was progressively funnier to listen to what the guys had to talk about, and not once did you burst out laughing collectively with others. Eventually, you made your way to the table and sat down next to Till. Flake and Oli were close around as well, while you could see Schneider and Frieda funnily dance around in front of the speakers.
You observed them for a while as the sound of music and the guys talking mixed together in the background, until you finally spoke.
“See, Oli,” you nudged him, already in the lightheaded mood of not giving too many shits about anything, “watch, learn. That’s what siblings do.” you laughed, and so did he.
“What the hell is she talking about, herr Riedel?!” Flake’s eyes shone in the dance of colors as he nudged the tall friend from an other side than you did. Oli only laughed more, and the blush that he couldn’t defend himself from fought its’ way to his face. It was visible that Flake knew exactly what you were referring to, but was just teasing Oli for the sake of having more and more fun.
You took another gulp from your bottle and spoke up, “Who says it isn’t possible for us to have the same mother, God knows how many human mutants are out there,” you leaned to Oli’s side, “we might as well be like two of five or ten.”
Suddenly, you heard intoxicated Till’s deep laughter emerging from your side. He made it sound as if he thought of your contemplation as pathetic, but you really didn’t care or recognize it at the time. His strong arm wrapped around your shoulders; bottle in his hand, he leaned it to yours and the glasses clinked against each other. “Cheers, (Y/N), embrace it!”
“Cheers!” you answered in a loud voice. First exchanging glances with Till, but then you noticed him raising eyebrows at Flake. The scientist returned the expression, and you two finally poured down some more. Only after that have you realized that you are finding yourself in the safety of his single arm, the smell of beer from his bottle right under your nose. You didn’t mind at all. It made you heat up even more as you melted in the chair, or at least that was how you felt.
On purpose, you leaned the back of your head against his arm and puppy-eyed up at him. When you first met him, you couldn’t have imagined him with a smile on his face. Now however, that you saw the smile with your own eyes, you got completely carried away until he spoke.
“Ooh, lady is acting cuddly?” he bent his head lower to look at you, and you laughed into each other’s faces as Till pulled you closer, having you feel the side of his muscular torso, “How adorable of such lady!”
Everything was happening so fast. You were drunk before you could snap fingers without even having a track of how much you’ve drank since leaving the dining room. No wonder that whatever you, Till, or whoever said, was the funniest thing you’ve ever heard, and even if not, you would still laugh and giggle, because why not? That evening was the most enjoyable chaos ever.
German guys really had a taste for fun, making you feel like you belong even more.
To your surprise, Flake was also looser than ever. The people you couldn’t ever possibly imagine having fun were absolute beasts, enjoying themselves every single minute while they could.
“And if the monsters attack at night while we can’t even walk anymore,” someone raised the bottle of Jäger in the middle of the room. From what you could figure out, it was nobody else than Paul, visibly in his natural habitat, “shall we die painlessly!”
“But I really don’t wanna die!” Schneider spun around Paul, ironically enough stealing the bottle from his hand and having a chug.
“Nobody does, but what can we do? Now that we have only a little bit more to feast ourselves to speechlessness.” the short man spread his arms wide, almost as if he was inviting Schneider into a hug. He understood and let himself get clenched in Paul’s tight hold. It was cute, especially when Richard chimed in out of nowhere and the bond became a three way hug.
Till informed you he was going to get himself another bottle, and once he returned, he set it onto the table and pulled you up without a warning. His hands tightly wrapped around your wrists, he led you away from the sitting places, singing along while staring into your eyes. And so did you. For a second, you hoped you wouldn’t ever forget this moment, as much as you haven’t forgotten the dream you’ve had. Oh, only of he knew. Only if you could tell him right now, and he would understand. How wonderful that would be.
Flake and Oli followed, with the rest of the room joining in into a fun, friendly mosh pit in front of the speakers. You really had zero idea about what you were doing at the moment, sweat running down your back and your head pulsing with higher blood pressure. Normally, feeling in such a way meant panic attack. Now, however, you couldn’t even think of something that uncomfortable and threatening. You couldn’t let yourself fall insecure in the group of people, whose presences were making you feel great and you wouldn’t ever exchange one of them for someone else. And after all, Paul has already said it - must you die on that night, shall it be painless.
It was perfect. You were at home. You had no reason to worry in anxiety.
The bottles clinked and knocked against each other. People cheered. Laughed. Celebrated. Forgot themselves, their boundaries and partied. You could barely see who was where through the changing of darkness and colorful lights. Your legs somehow still haven’t stumbled over each other. Eventually, you forgot yourself as well, and progressed to ruin your body for the sake of your psyche - at least momentarily.
Hours have passed, and you found yourself lying on the sofa that still had the flashlight placed on its’ armrest. Looking up at the ceiling, legs thrown over the other armrest, you watched the colors flicker and listened to your own heartbeat more than to the actual music. Your mind was shut down. Even if you would want to, it was impossible to force yourself into thinking, and that was just great.
Everybody else was just as calm by now, although the rattles of laughter broke through the stereo sounds occasionally. Anybody was barely aware of themselves or anyone else, but you could feel yourself very slowly slipping into sleep. Until you saw a figure approaching, which then squatted down next to your head. You looked over. It was Reesh.
“Hello.” a stupid smile met him on your face, your eyelids halfway down.
“Heeey,” he waved his hand a little, which you found cute. Reesh was very obviously in the same state as you, “do you wanna go, for a smoke?”
“A smoke?” you repeated, “Yeah, why not, again.”
It was quite a task to stand up, but you managed. Walking close to each other without anyone who was still intact enough to watch their surroundings noticing, you strolled down the hallway, but passed the garden entrance. It took you a moment to notice, but you did. Wherever Richard was aiming, was absolutely not the garden, and he didn’t wish for a cigarette at the moment.
“Hey, weren’t we going to smoke?” your feet carried you even closer to him, making your arms touch. That was enough for Richard to find your hand, and this time it was him who started the physical contact. He hid your hand in his and led you down the stairs.
“Forget the smoke,” he looked at you, “we’re going over to mine, okay?”
“Yeah yeah, fine then.”
Your drunk you probably hadn’t yet realized what that move was about, but at least the while didn't lose its’ magic. Once you entered his room, you noticed Richard locking the door and you sat down on his bed.
His room was very cozy, and he definitely adjusted it to his own liking. The top halves of the walls were painted red, while the bottom halves were black. Even his bed had black sheets and blankets, but his rug was, once again, red. Richard probably really liked this color combination, and you had to admit that it didn’t look bad at all. Next to the head of his bed stood an electric guitar, and the moment you spotted it, he was already picking it up.
“You like that?” he asked you in a mumbly voice.
“Yeah,” you nodded, observing. He sat down into a chair and you stretched yourself onto the bed, making yourself comfortable. Richard was just so admirable. The black t-shirt he wore tightened around the curves of his body, giving you a hint about his body build, especially the prominent chest. His arms and thighs; you began having dirty thoughts against your will, “can you play?”
“No, I’m… not too good at it,” he ran his fingers along the strings, the instrument getting all his attention for the moment being, “not yet at least.”
“Please,” your pure eyesight blackmailed him, “play, just a few notes is enough, please.”
You blinked a few times when Richard properly adjusted the guitar in his lap, strumming the strings even without a guitar pick. It lacked the quality because he didn’t even plug it in, but with enough attention, you could hear what he made the instrument sing. It soothed you, and excited you at the same time while you rested your head on a pillow and watched.
But everything has an end, and so did have Richard’s little personal performance.
“Did you like it?” putting the electric guitar back in place, his eyes searched for yours, and found them. Soon enough, you felt his eyesight on your entire body. Anytime else, if a man would undress you with a look like that, you would rage at how uncomfortable it made you feel. This was different, though. It had a timing, patience and softness to it. It was exactly how you would want it to start happening.
“Yes.” your hand reached out for his arm as he sat down on the bed, and so you sat up as well, moving yourself closer. Both your hands caressed one of his shoulders, so he finally turned to you, and at that point, at that sight, that sensation and lust, there was finally no going back.
With one hand, he took both of yours off his shoulder and would gently clasp them in his. His sight turned downwards at the knot-like labyrinth made of your palms and fingers, fondling yours and you fondling his, Richard stared at the careful play, and so did you. Then once again, he looked up to admire your face as your muscles began tensing up in growing, yet incredibly silent form of excitement.
“(Y/N)?” Richard spoke to you as if speaking any louder could shatter you into shards.
“I don’t think friends hold hands the way we did,” he entrusted you his thoughts, knowing that this was the right time to say all these things he wished he could say before, “or the way we do right now.”
“I don’t think so anymore, either.” you tightened the grip you had around parts of his hands, leaning closer. Your foreheads rested against one another, supporting your weights, creating even more intimacy between the two of you.
Two doves which desperately wish to love each other in a world that grants love as easily as it takes love away. Such connection, such trust, such love, was so vulnerable during the war. You could try for months and then finally achieve what both of you want, finally lock the bond of having each other’s backs - and lose all of it the day after.
The back of your mind, and the back of Richard’s mind, both realized that. That’s why you began to slightly shake. So fragile and valuable was this moment you shared, and it would reflect on you, as he finally leaned forward, having you lay down on your back at the slight nudge of his body. The nudge was a hint, so he wouldn’t have to push you down himself, but you gladly obeyed, letting the situation grow as consensual as possible.
You sobered up at the feeling of his touch.
One palm already caressing your cheek, the other one running up your body - from hips to the side of your ribcage, and then upwards to your throat, finally residing there in rest. Richard’s eyes dived into yours for the last time before he would see no more, letting his eyelids drop as he descended towards your lips. Then, you finally felt them on top of yours, locking as if they were to never depart again. The elegant, slow, and gentle kissing grew in depth as his tongue made you open your mouth up yet a bit more.
You could taste him and he gladly tasted you as well, the hand that was caressing your cheek until now hungrily running up into your hair, making them a mess; a mess that he desired, that he liked, and you allowed him to play. The warmth of his body melted you, now more literally than ever before, as your hands sneaked under his shirt. After a moment of you attempting to get as much of his body while letting him get yours, Richard pulled away from the kiss.
You wouldn’t recognize the look in his face. The exaggerated passion, his teeth burying into his lower lip, he grabbed the lower edges of his shirt and pulled it over his head, throwing the cloth aside. You could finally touch and see Richard’s grace of the human body without anything covering it, and you would use every opportunity to run your palms across his chest, abs, shoulders. All that, while he carefully rid you of your own clothing, not minding the bandages still covering your wounds.
Upon freeing yourself both of shirts, pants and underwear, Richard leaned down to you again, granting you a short kiss.
“(Y/n),” feeling his breath on your lips, he spoke, playing with the strands of your hair, “(Y/n)...”
“I know,” you slipped a finger across his lips, keeping it there until you were finished, “I love you too, Reesh. We don’t have to say or explain anything anymore.”
And with that, two galaxies wielding all kinds of life and emotion, two parts of the universe, two halves of one heart, two bodies made of flesh, blood and bones, collided into one. Belonging to each other on that exact split of a second. Becoming one.
Saying a big fuck you to the merciless, dystopian world people have created on planet Earth - you moved in synchronization for each other, feeling each other, trusting each other, devoting yourselves to each other. That was what it meant for both of you.
Reesh pulled up the blanket, just enough to cover both of you. You clinged to his chest, resting on his firmness, curled up and embraced in his arms. You were certain he was not going to let you go, and the darkness surrounding you wasn’t so scary and full of frustrating thoughts anymore. He was there to scare them away, if needed, and you were there to scare away any thoughts which would try to hurt him as well.
“I won’t waste a single second of my life being without you anymore, (Y/n),” he whispered softly into your hair, “without you none of them are worth it anymore.”
Chapter 8: Loss
The day was going to be full of surprises, and more mysteries were presented to you.
It even seems like Rammstein never runs out of secrets at this point.
That night, you were freed from dreaming. No strange visions occupied your state of rest tonight, and you didn't remember the last time you've slept this soundly. A gentle beam of light passing through a small window built in right above the ground woke you up, and your first instinct was to throw an eye at Richard's clock. Thankfully, it was still time, you've had a full hour to get up and attend breakfast as if nothing has happened.
There, you got quite torn at the thought - act as if you were absolutely innocent regarding spending a night in Richard's room, or embrace it and head on show that you two might become something after all? You shrugged it off. Whatever shall happen, will.
You inhaled the smell of his skin, snuggling even closer than you already were. Nothing could have been more comfortable at the moment, than waking up exactly how you fell asleep, in such a safety-guaranteeing embrace. And oh, the memories of the night; they still made your face heat up, fill with a pink shade. Loving to tell yourself that you knew Richard, you were certain that he wouldn't ever do anything like that as a one-night stand, even if he was drunk. Reality became too great to suddenly take such a twist, you thought.
In the end, you were right. It wouldn't take a twist of such kind, and Richard really did mean well with you.
Your movement woke him up, however, and he let out a deep, satisfied grunt, tightening the hold around your body once he realized that he's not alone in his bed anymore. Unless he spoke or visibly tried to get up on his own, you wouldn't move an inch or mutter a word. But he already had things to say, thankfully.
"Good morning, beautiful." you heard Reesh mumble above your head, as he almost immediately began stroking your back. It made you his without a doubt.
"Sush," you protested at the thought of having to crawl out of the bed, out of the comfort of his muscular arms, "we've got an hour, we don't have to get up just yet."
"We've got much more." he answered.
"What do you mean, Reesh?"
"Come on, it's common sense," he squirmed under the blanket, slightly changing position to make himself more comfortable on his spot, "everybody got wasted yesterday, nobody will have the guts to get up at normal hours... well, you know, except for the guardsmen who commute here to help the Schneiders."
"And me." you added, gladly reminding your man that you were a part of the guard team as well. You wouldn't even think of blaming him, though, as he was barely awake while speaking.
"And you," Reesh planted a kiss into your hair before his head dropped heavily back onto the pillow. The less aware he was of his words, the more flattering they were to you, "of course, always you... I'm gonna... snooze for a little more."
With that, you let a weak "me too" slip out from your lips, exhaling deeply. Stumbling over own consciousness and falling face-first into another part of deep slumber, a dream began emerging from the back of your head. You were unable to stop it, but these were no visual hallucinations this time. You heard noises. First, they were chaotic, resembling a basic mess of screams, gunshots, thudding footsteps of someone who's on a run, voices, music. All of that mixed together.
Then, right through the mess' middle, a low toned, deep sounding melody broke in and drowned out all other noises. You recognized the music played on a piano, darkness spread across your entire field of vision. The experience felt like attending a concert while blindfolded, lost in the depths of sleep at the same time. Yet, you weren't sure for how long you sat, stood, or laid in the audience before a harsh voice made your heart jump in fright.
"I'm sorry." it called out in a regretful nature.
You recognized the voice's owner, but you couldn't see him. What on Earth was he doing there again, anyways? Could he just leave you alone, now that you have settled with somebody else, sealing your decision with the most intimate act of trust? Could he stop flooding you over with these strange feelings, now? You wished to answer: What do you want? Why are you sorry?, but opening your mouth only had you unable to close it, mumbling only senseless noises like some incapable toddler.
Then he apologized again. Desperate. Loud. Crying. Not only your heart jumped this time, it was your entire body, springing up on the bed in a scare.
And so, you were awake again, in Richard's room, covered only by the top of his blanket. Have it dropped, anybody having keys to his place could witness you in a way only Richard could now. To your misfortune, you already heard keys twisting in the door, and soon enough the entrance moved. You pulled the blanket up to your shoulders, and observed with fear, just to find out that it was Flake who peeked inside, judging you from across the top of his glasses.
"You're called off of duty today as well, (Y/n)," he coughed at the, now truly, embarrassing situation, "can you come down to the subject room when you're ready?"
"H-huh?" you stuttered, face red, quickly looking across the room for your stuff. But of course, there weren't any - Flake was just witnessing you naked in someone else's room and bed. It couldn't have been more awkward by the point, "Sure, but... why? What happened?"
"Hopefully not much," a concerned frown formed on his face just when Richard slowly sat up as well. However, the expression Flake aimed at you had to be his form of silent communication without a doubt, "besides, you're only switching jobs, that's why."
Richard rubbed his closed eyes, and you weren't exactly sure if he even knew somebody else was peeking into the room. Upon spotting the scientist at the doorway, though, his reaction was just the same as yours; blanket guard up, as high as possible. Normally, they would see each other's bodies in the shower, but this was an entirely different occasion, at which even Richard got the impression of being scolded by Flake's pure presence.
That wasn't the center of your attention at the moment, though. What sparked your interest was something Flake has said just a few seconds ago, but your reaction couldn't be immediate due to obvious reasons.
"Do you mean I'll be a hunter?" excitement rose up in your voice, "For real?"
"Yes, that's what I've meant," he nodded and stepped back, hiding behind the half-closed door before shutting them for good, "now please, get up and ready. We'll be waiting in the basement."
"Also, please!" you shouted after him before he could hear you no more, "Don't tell anyone, Flake!"
"I'm not suicidal." his voice slowly faded as he walked away, and you didn't really know why he said that, or what was the meaning behind it. Nevertheless, you shook it off and turned to Richard, eyes sparking with joy.
Unable to count how many times you've asked Reesh if he's heard the same thing you have, you jumped off of the bed, at this point careless about whether or not he's going to see you in your full, natural beauty again. You collected your clothing from the ground and threw it on yourself to cover your sensitive parts and made your way to the door.
The spiky haired boy, with whom it all began at your inability to speak German, and continued so far in the sheets, and who has also fallen madly in love with yourself, wouldn't let you leave so easily though. Catching up with you by at least slipping his boxers on, he stopped you just before you touched the door knob.
One hand on your shoulder, slowly sliding down to your wrist, the other one by your hip, he spun you around to face each other. At his irresistible, gentle demand, you stared up at the wonders of his angelic face.
"Hey uh, (Y/n)," he began, obviously also a little startled at his own, just discovered swiftness, "thank you for the night. It was... we... we are a thing now, right?"
"Oh, is that even a question?" you cracked a soft smile, grabbing the hand that travelled down your entire arm a moment ago, "Of course we are. I don't know about you, but... I did not consider that a hookup."
Instead of an immediate verbal answer, the rush in his eyes relaxed and he allowed himself to let out a sigh of relief. Internally, he must have felt as if receiving the God's blessing. Internally, you felt the very same way.
"Good," he laughed silently, "now you go then, so they don't have to wait for you too long."
"See you around, I'll find you when we're done."
Grinning and waving cute goodbyes, you sneaked out of his room and quickly ran to yours, grabbing clean clothes and a towel. There was no way you would go downstairs to meet them without taking a shower, especially knowing that there were going to be more people than just Flake. During the hot, refreshing shower, you had all the time to bet, guess and rethink who those people might be.
Once you were done, you made your way down the stairs, all ready for what was about to come. You actually recalled Flake talking to you about having to run some additional tests, but you weren't afraid of those. You weren't afraid, nor anxious, until you entered the so-called subject room, where the non-humane forms of life resided.
A trio of men waited for your in peace, one of them being Flake, the other two being Oli and Till. God damnit, Till. You immediately felt your morale catching tight on the bridles of those familiar sensations, trying to tame them, as they wiggled and raged in the attempts to let loose. They lacked logic, though, so you wouldn't ease on the grip, knowing that everything would just go down the hill if it was for you to be just a little nice to them.
"Good morning." you saluted at the three of them, and they've returned the greeting. Without any further due, Flake got to the reason why he has gathered you in his very own underground kingdom.
While you all stood there, the huge caged beast asleep and silent, Flake walked over to the deer you and Schneider brought to the base. With a full confidence, which was more than strange to witness at least for your colleagues, he opened small door of its' fenced coop and let it out. The deer roamed freely and after a moment, made its' way to what interested it - a group of people just standing in this strange place, not rushing to end its' life.
Knowing about Oli's unfortunate addon towards the beasts, you eyed him. There was no way you could be surprised at the fact that he looked terrified, frozen in place, probably being reminded of the horrible accident that grounded him to the military base's interiors forever. It clicked in your mind though, that the happening of this might be another chance for Oli, although you had no idea how Flake made it work out.
Then finally, your attention shifted to Till. He wasn't looking at the deer at all, instead kept the landing of his sight somewhere completely else. You didn't understand, but wouldn't stare like a creep, and wouldn't ask either.
"What you see here is nothing but a combination that will go in the favor of all three of you," Flake finally spoke up, hands shoved in the pockets of his lab coat as he also watched the deer calmly behave in your presences, "to my knowledge, you all aspire to be great hunters, but only one of you has been granted the ability so far. I gathered you around to make sure that what I want to suggest is safe, and mainly, possible."
"How did you do it?" Oli spat out in the blink of an eye, thirsting for knowledge, curious. You could see him standing with a straight spine at full attention, like a soldier in his early trainings or a meerkat guarding its' den.
"Thank her," Flake suddenly pointed at you. You looked at him in confusion, having zero ideas about what you were to be thanked for, "all that I have done is simply bringing you into one room. You have probably already discussed this together, Oli, so you know that (Y/n) has a similar... well, advantage to yours. Except that hers works exactly the other way around, making the beasts lenient in her presence."
In the process of Flake's speech, you started feeling someone's eyes on you. When you precisely looked around, you noticed they didn't belong to anyone else than Till, and what's more, you have probably never seen a pair of eyes so surprised and intrigued. Trying your best not to make your awareness too obvious, you quickly began revolving around all the things Flake had to say.
"The way this can work, I assume," the scientist continued, "is by having you two being close to each other. One subconsciously emits the energy that enrages the subject after luring it to himself, other emits a kind of energy that calms the subject down once it finds Oli. It confuses the deer here a little, too, but the essential proof here is that it doesn't attack, even in Oli's presence. According to our knowledge of human-beast mutations, this should work regardless of the mutations' strenght. So... what I wanted to suggest, is that... Till?"
Flake looked up to the hunter, who immediately reacted. You suddenly recalled how he behaved yesterday while the party was in full movement, and now you couldn't recognize him again. But it really was the same person, regardless.
"Yes?" he answered.
"Would you commit yourself to being a part of, perhaps, one of the most efficient hunting trios in Germany?"
A while of silence radiating with tension filled the empty space. You looked down at your feet and prayed, for yourself and for Oli, too. What Flake has told them about you was touching without a doubt, and now you wished to make all these hopes come true more than anything. To have that happen though, Till had to cooperate. Otherwise, you weren't sure if you could still pull it off alone with Oli. Your guts flipped in frustration.
"Please, Till. You're essential." Flake tried one last time to get him on your side, interrupting the silence, reigniting the spark of hope that was to slowly die out.
And finally, the weight on your heart dropped to the ground; you almost heard the bang.
"...Yes," Till agreed, nodding his head, "we can do that."
You couldn't move. Your arms got pressed to your body, and your income of oxygen got scented with a smell of fresh clothing. A pair of rather skinnier, long arms caged you in an impactful moment of affection, gratitude and euphory. This was the first time you saw the weaponsmith act in a way that couldn't be classified as calm.
"Thank you!" the bassline of Oli's deep voice echoed proudly through the environment, as you hugged him back, equally filled with happiness, "You have no idea. Thank you so much!"
There was no doubt that the other two watched you with wide, bright smiles on their faces. Too bad you didn't manage to catch neither of them, but you were sure as hell that this had to create a small firework inside their souls. Because finally, Oli's firework wasn't small and humble anymore, it was noisy, huge and colorful.
Once you pulled away from the hug, you and Flake exchanged grateful nods.
"You're so great for coming up with that, Flake," you complimented him, "don't you even try to throw all the credit at me. Can't believe nobody else has thought of this before."
"Ah, no, they probably did think of that somewhere, sometime, already," he laughed at the irony and the innocence of your lack of judgement, which was nowhere close to how you naturally were. You were certain to say it was all because of the sudden, unexpected joy, "we just don't know, because they probably keep it to themselves."
“Let’s all just be grateful that this is, in the end, possible,” raging against your strong will to keep your mind loyal despite the undefeatable nature, Till moved between you and Oli to hide each of your shoulders under his arms, “this will boost the morale.”
“Till’s right,” Flake agreed along, “so Oli, your first shift as a hunter starts tomorrow. For the two of you, it’s today’s afternoon. When all three of you are out there, with (Y/n)’s ability to calm, Oli’s ability to attract the beasts and Till’s magnificent hunting skills, you’ll be undefeatable.”
“Huh?” you looked over at Oli, “Why isn’t Oli coming just yet?”
Oli stretched, making the facial expression of endless disappointment, obviously as happy about his absence as you.
“Yeah, I am sorry,” he pushed out, “I’ve already got an assignment for today in the city. The helicopter will pick me up here after lunch and I’ll be back in the evening. It’s nothing serious though, just something about my contract with the facility. It could run out of validity soon, I don’t exactly remember the date, so I’m going to sign up for another ten years.”
After a while, everyone was about to leave for lunch. You and Flake gave the boys a lead, while you refrained in the subject room, waiting for them to be gone. It wasn’t your idea, Flake just wanted to have a little private chat with you. Once the air was clear, he led the deer back into its’ coop as he silently spoke.
“Can you be honest with me for a while, (Y/n)?”
“Yeah,” you tightly held your own hands behind your back, suspecting, afraid of what he might want to ask you, “go on. I heard this district has no secrets, anyways.”
“Good,” he closed the coop up and leaned his back against it, looking at you from quite the distance as his hands found their ways into his lab coat’s pockets once again, “have you slept with Richard tonight?”
You blushed, desiring to lie, but you knew that your body language would reveal you. There was no point in hiding such a thing, as even before, you have learnt that Flake is an excellent observer.
“Well, we did sleep in the same bed–“
“No,” he frowned at your attempt to cover up the truth, “I meant, did you have sex?”
“Why?” you retorted. Despite being a mature woman, you somehow still found it hard to spit out the truth; it was silly, and you didn’t really understand yourself. Nevertheless, you really wanted to know why before admitting to anything.
“Because you should never do it again,” his gaze pierced through you like an arrow made of ice, “one stupid mistake and you’re gonna die.”
What Flake spoke to you about afterwards was something you never wished to hear, yet, it gave full logic, and you could have been counting with it since the day you found out about your whole self – humans and anything that has to do with beasts, or any other species, simply cannot mix. Given the nature of what beasts are, getting pregnant with a human could have easily killed you due to the genes mixing. At least you knew though, that you weren’t at risk anymore. According to Flake’s research and knowledge, you would already be dead if Richard did a bad job in keeping his actions safe.
Also, Flake probably wouldn’t have known that if it hasn’t already happened to someone before. There must have been incidents of this happening in other districts, and the knowledge together with research got spread across the local scientists, Flake being one of them. The imagination of that horrified you, though; devoting yourself to a lover, but dying just because of that. As if some people just couldn’t be granted the paradise every soldier deserved in this world.
The noon went past quickly. You were excited and anxious about the upcoming hunt. While you had your time to prepare, you went paying a visit to the armory in order to get a new set of uniform for your job. Right after Oli gave it to you, he rushed outside to depart, leaving you to yourself. As you were dressing up into the uniform, which was sewn in a dark, muddy green color, Richard peeked into the armory as well.
He had exactly nothing to do in there, and zero practical reasons to even wander around. His afternoon was free except for having to be alert at all times, since anyone could always call for support during inconveniences with the beasts. Yet, it didn’t stop him from entering the place, immediately complimenting at how badass you look in the new uniform, and that you would totally be the sexiest hunter from all across Germany, if not the entire world. You blushed at the words he kept saying, deciding to shut him up with a hug.
„You don’t even know how happy I am that I can finally go out and hunt,“ you muttered into Reesh’s chest while he slowly cradled you in the hug, “and I don’t have to worry that I’ll creep anyone out.”
“Till is the last person who would get creeped out by anything, trust me,” he rested his chin on the top of your head, “he’s seen and been through so much shit.”
“Haven’t we all?” you pulled away, looking up at Richard, craving his answer. You felt like he would be the perfect person to acknowledge that, as so far, he has been the one who showed you the scary and uncompromising side of this situation, but also the sweet side that’s worth enduring all the struggles for. The seemingly insignificant eye contact reminded you of what you would have to tell him later on that day, but you didn’t wish to think about that now, sparing him of the unpleasant news for a few hours longer. Besides, who have ever said that intercourse is essential in a relationship?
“Yeah, sure, but Till is next level,” he stood behind his opinion, “I’m his great friend. Trust me.”
“Hmmm, okay,” You stood up on your toes to reach for a short kiss, and you’ve been granted exactly that. After sharing a moment of silence, you slipped by Reesh’s side, but his sight still observed you, “I’ll have to go so I’m not late. We don’t have to be so obvious.”
Keeping his words about Till in mind, you picked up your rifle from your room. Strapping yourself with armor, you made sure that ammunition was still left in the belt’s pouches. Then, it was finally time to go. You jogged upstairs, and Till was already waiting for you by the guard’s office. With you catching up, wordless, you made your way outside and adventured deep into the forest.
Meeting a few guardsmen along the way, some of those which have remembered you from your duty have stared. A single stare-back from Till however, made them mind their own business again, and you haven’t even noticed that it was happening.
On that day, the sun was shining, only a few clouds visible in the distant sky. Not even wind would blow, which was quite surprising, given the past days’ weather. The parts of nature which weren’t corrupted lived more than ever, as the sound of your footsteps whispered through the woods. The further you walked with Till, the more your primal senses fought against the bridles you held, desperately trying to tear themselves off from the chains.
You wouldn’t allow them to manifest on surface, though, even if it ate up much of your mental energy. Your identity has already ridded you of one joy in life, you didn’t need it to rid you of another.
In fact, you lost track of where you went, completely trusting Till with the directions. You admired the nature that surrounded you, and so did he, walking in silence. The air was fresh, and from time to time you could hear brids’ wings flapping as they swooshed close past you. Comparing Till to Schneider as colleagues, though, didn’t really differ much, except that you didn’t feel tense from his silence. In fact, you gladly shared it with him, hopping onto a flow of thoughts as you walked.
Eventually, you made it to a small lake. Till stopped, which had you put your guard up, as you watched what was the reason of his sudden stop. Just about to ask him what’s wrong, he bent down and began digging his hands in a pile of leaves and sticks; you couldn’t help but wonder, waiting for him to reveal whatever was under there. Then, he picked up a rod from under the pile and shook the remaining dirt and leaves off of it. Coming to realize it was a fishing rod, you became confused – so, was he a hunter, or a fisher?
“Till? What’s that?” you walked closer from behind his back.
“Uh?” he looked back at you, slowly making his way towards the lake. His eyes meeting with yours chilled you, but the moment he looked away, it was gone, “Well, that’s a fishing rod, (Y/n).”
“I know, but… I mean… what are you going to do with it?”
“But aren’t we supposed to be hunting?” you leaned your firearm over your shoulder in disbelief as Till sat down by the lakeside. Whatever he was meaning to do, he was completely serious with it, and instead of making you mad, it was a pleasant surprise, having you rather curious.
“Come sit,” he patted the ground next to him without even answering your question at first, “I don’t wanna hunt. Why do you think I barely get hurt? Because I don’t hunt.”
You were startled. Meanwhile, Till reached out the fishing rod, threw it out in front of himself, and the tip of the string splashed into the water. Putting your weapon down on the ground, you walked over to him and sat down, getting lost in the sight of the water’s surface. You wanted to ask him so many questions, but he just sat there and waited for a fish to get baited. Looking at him from the side, it almost appeared like he could be capable of sitting here all day. But wasn’t that just what he did every day all day?
It was unbelievable, how gentle he seemed, enjoying himself in absolute peace. You would feel bad to disturb it, but couldn’t resist the urge to ask at the same time.
“Why don’t you hunt?” you began the conversation, staring off to the distance. For a moment, you even thought that you were the reason – maybe he just didn’t want to kill any beast before your eyes. After all, the realization of your identity was still new and wounds were still fresh.
“Why would I hunt?” he retorted in a calm manner, “I don’t need it. The beasts don’t hurt me. Live, and let live.”
“That’s so against the orders, I bet some would have the audacity to call it a treason.”
“Orders can kiss my ass,” Till sighed, “I only kill when I need to protect myself, or well, others.”
“That’s common sense,” you responded, “but I’ve never seen anyone do that with so much confidence.”
“Protect themselves or others?” he jokingly teased, turning to you with a bright grin.
“No, I meant disobey orders.”
At that, Till only shrugged and continued paying attention to his fishing rod. After a while, it probably began boring him as you noticed him staring upwards at the tree crowns. This hunt officially confirmed all your assumptions about how Till was just outstanding, you thought as your stare followed his, also getting caught in watching the very tops of trees which surrounded you. Here and there, a leaf would fall off of a branch, writhing in the air before hitting ground bottom.
You swore that if this was how you were going to spend the entire day, you would eventually take a nap by Till’s side and maybe wait for him to catch a fish like that. After all, you don’t remember the last time you saw an uncooked, incorrupt, living fish.
In the end, an hour or two could have passed by already. By the time, Till has dragged out and released back exactly two fish, both of which weren’t ruined by the disease. It made you happy that he, in fact, didn’t keep them and upon seeing an untouched, clean part of nature, he decided to put it back into its’ place. Till visibly had a much deeper connection with nature than you would have thought.
Beginning to feel restless, you stood up to stretch, maybe walk around for a while. You excused yourself, saying that you would just go check the surroundings and then return back. Setting off to the nearby forest, you let your firearm lay on the ground, now that you were fully aware of your ability.
You walked away to the point where you couldn’t even see Till anymore, but you were certain you could find him again. The forest wasn’t too confusing, after all, and so, keeping directions was easy. Breathing the clear air had indeed calming effects, and so you didn’t even bother thinking about uncomfortable topics. You came to understand Till’s hobby of fishing instead of hunting down beasts, as you experienced the vast emptiness that made your head lighter than ever. When he started fishing, you thought you would have died of boredom, but now you felt like you could stay a night or two in this forest, feeling more at home than in the basement.
For a moment while finding yourself out there, you began missing Richard. The cheeks rising at your smile blushed as you recognized the feeling; the pure excitement from something new and uplifting in your life. You wished you would never get used to lighting up at the thought of him.
It was probably just a side effect, although you didn’t remember feeling that way while hunting in any other districts. Suddenly though, the tiny, soft hairs on the back of your neck have stood, and you wondered why, as the weather was warm and nothing could have possibly make you feel cold at the moment. Maybe it was the right time to turn around and slowly return back to the lake.
Seeing Till from the distance, everything appeared to be pretty normal. The fishing rod resting next to him, he squatted by the lakeside, probably buried in his own mind. When you walked closer, however, you saw a pale blue tinted body, lying lifeless a few meters away from himself. It was without a doubt, a dead beast. It had a feline-like appearance, so perhaps an oversized lynx. You sighed, and upon realizing that you didn’t even hear a gunshot, a weird feeling filled your aura. Till could sense it, as you expected him to avoid any nosy questions.
“Hey Till,” you quickly jogged behind him, pointing at the dead mammal “what happened here? Did you kill that?”
He nodded, not saying a word. You let out a sigh and squatted down next to him, to which he shortly responded, almost in a commanding tone.
“No, you can stand up again,” he said, “we’re returning to the base. Schneider called through the transmitter; they want you back there.”
“Lina requests you.”
“Huh?” your eyes widened as you both stood up. Knowing very well that you wouldn’t stop bothering Till with questions from this exact moment, you tried to sound as humble and innocent as possible. What if he found out about what happened during the other night? You didn’t want Richard, nor Oli to get a blame for you curiosity and Lina’s mental disability.
“Yes, she is not feeling well and she wants to speak to you,” he placed the fishing rod further away, covering it with sticks and leaves again, “prepare yourself though, there’s more to it.”
“What do you mean by all that?” picking up your rifle and tightly squeezing it in your hold, the weapon began working as a tool on which you could inconspicuously project your stress, “What’s going on with her?”
When you weren’t looking, already leading the way back to the military base, Till watched you with saddened eyes. Before you would ask him again in an attempt to dwell out an answer from him, he caught up with you and began telling you all the things he knew. He himself felt like it would be harsh to hide any of the information from you, especially now that you would have to face Lina yourself.
“Schneider told me that Flake said she had a huge mental breakdown a night or so ago, and she spent the entire yesterday and tonight closed up in her room, only allowing Flake inside. He says Lina’s psyche outbreak affected her physical state a lot, and that they may call a helicopter to transfer her into a hospital nearby,” Till kept telling you what he heard from his great scientist friend, and the news gradually became more and more disturbing, “Flake would apparently keep her, but he has no idea how to treat whatever is happening to her.”
Guilt filling your guts and putting heaviness on your lungs, you didn’t know how to respond. One thing was certain, though – Schneider must have been talking about the fight you had, but you weren’t sure if he even knew about it himself. All of sudden, you started feeling responsible for the torment Lina was going through at the base, coming to realize why you haven’t even seen her at the party.
“That’s so horrible,” you managed to put a sentence of empathy together, “I… don’t know what to say.”
“I didn’t know when Schneider told me, either,” Till’s words comforted you in validity, “moreover, I don’t understand why she wants to speak with you. Are you two related somehow?”
As an act of putting on a façade, you shrugged, protecting Till, yourself, Richard and Oli from what would come if you told him the truth. A simple “I don’t know” carried itself through the air, but nothing more.
“Till?” you tried to change the topic.
“How did you kill the beast?” it was a risky question, “I heard no gunshots. I was near enough to hear one if it has been fired.”
Silence radiated from the man who kept his assertive stance towards the topic. It seemed like he wouldn’t say anything and leave you in confusion yet again, but he changed his mind last minute. The weapon strapped to his back was now more prominent than ever, slightly swinging with each step Till took, but you knew that it held no guilt in taking away the animal’s life.
“I just did,” he chopped you off; without any means to hurt you in order to not having to answer, however, “didn’t you listen to Flake? I’m a great hunter. I make miracles happen.”
By the end of his sentence, he even giggled, making satire off of himself. You saw right through his attempts, though, and didn’t hold back.
“So, you used a knife?”
“I don’t carry knives around,” he shook his head, “does it really matter that much to you?”
“I just wanna learn from the best!” if it wasn’t for his intimidating build, you would have nudged him, but the urge to do that was more than apparent from the way you spoke. In the end, you didn’t have to do anything as Till finally began tapping into honesty.
“Some things are better left unknown. Yet.” his heavy palm landed on your head as he gently patted you. It was funny, but enraging at the same time, as you logically wanted to be treated truthfully.
“Till, come on!” you fought back, dodging the touch of his palm and he pulled it back to himself, “I really want to know. If it’s a secret, I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
Then finally, Till stopped walking, and with your hopes up you stopped alongside him, looking up with curiosity filling your eyes. Instead, he let out a sigh and shifted into a serious nature, standing his ground so far.
“I’m for real, (Y/n). You would just want to avoid me if I showed you.” Till muttered quietly while looking anywhere except at you, and continued walking right after he was finished saying what was on his mind. Keeping respect towards him, you recognized the boundary he has just asserted between you, and followed him in silence. That’s how you made it back to the military base, with you having zero knowledge benefit from your harmless argument. At least you promised yourself that one day, and hopefully as soon as possible, you would shatter through his shell and find the seemingly scary secret.
For the rest of the way, you couldn’t help but wonder how he pulled off the assault, and cursed yourself for leaving him alone by the lakeside. If you have stayed, the beast wouldn’t have attacked and he wouldn’t have to commit to the act of murdering, which visibly made him super uncomfortable. Besides, you haven’t even heard the beast’s cry for help, you heard no cussing of Till at the life threatening encounter. He must have executed it in absolute silence, but that was perhaps so rare you have never witnessed it before. For now, though, all you could do was speculate, as provoking Till with any further questioning could lead to a real argument this time.
The helicopter took off. You, Schneider, Richard, Flake and Till, as the only people who weren’t on duty and thus absent, were sitting on the ground outside, backs leaning against the military base’s wall. All of you held a cigarette in your hand, even though Schneider loathed smoking in particular – now, however, he squeezed one tightly in between his fingers, the side of his arm pressed onto yours as you five huddled together in despair. The helicopter's echo fell silent, and there was nothing any of you could do at that point.
Your muscles rattled from the conversation you had with Lina, privately in her room without anyone else present, before the helicopter has arrived and Till with Schneider helped escorting her in there. In the end, only Flake and Richard, one of which sat by the end of your miserable quintet, the other one right beside you, warming your hand in his, could have been capable of understanding why the experience was so chilling for you. They expected you to be guilty and, after all, telling you that you shouldn’t feel so was the first thing Flake did before he let you inside her room.
The memories of Lina lying helplessly in her bed, skin pale as an empty sheet of paper and dark, horrifying circles under her eyes which lacked the spark of life, were still freshly engraved into your mind, and they were haunting. The way her weak voice spoke to you, explained how she didn’t mean any of it and that she maybe even regrets her decisions; your heart was breaking. And then, she pressed a key into your palm with both of her hands, reassuring you that Anna will help you if you’ll ever be in need.
Right now, you still held the key in your fist, protecting it like a treasure. It was a key from the fence that protected Anna’s cage. Apparently, it was Lina's secret possession, so Flake was not to find out about it.
“Are we drinking again tonight?” Till exhaled, nervously caressing his hands in one another.
“Quite possibly.” Schneider mumbled.
You tried to stay hopeful, but – Lina was never meant to return from the hospital.
Chapter 9: Triple R - Retrospective, Revolution & Rammstein
You know what they say: when people make plans, God laughs.
THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS THE TOPICS OF DEATH, CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE AND SELF HARM, AND A VERBAL FIGHT. IF YOU FEEL LIKE THESE TOPICS COULD HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON YOU, YOU CAN SKIP THIS CHAPTER AND HIT ME UP FOR A SUMMARY IN DMs AT n3bel.tumblr.com. THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING THIS BEFORE READING, I WOULD NEVER WANT TO EVOKE ANY SERIOUS NEGATIVE EMOTIONS IN MY READERS!!
A month has passed since your first hunt. The very last days of spring were flowing away like a stream of water, and so, summer was just around the corner. Lots of things have happened during this month - as you sat on Richard’s bed once again on a dull morning, you began recalling the dates which have gotten imprinted into your memory, never to be erased.
It all started on May 2nd, when Lina got taken away. You hid the key in your pockets and later under the rug inside your apartment, and never told anybody that she gave it to you.
A week later, on May 9th, they called you from the asylum, or the wanna-be hospital. Schneider was the one to pick up the phone, and it was the first time you saw him ugly cry while kneeling on the ground. The message about Lina’s unfortunate passing put you all to silence, grief, despair and regret; especially you. You were so, so fucking guilty, but it only hit you a few days later.
On May 11th, you all took a flight to the city to attend her funeral. From there on, everything about yourself and everyone went downhill.
On May 15th, it has been broken to you that Till is also mutated with the beasts’ genes, but nobody told you what his ability was. Not even Oli, Richard, nor Flake. In fact, some of the people in the district appeared to not be aware of his ability either.
On May 22nd, you began considering some really wrong decisions, and so, you slept with Richard for the second time. It was hard to convince him, but he gave up to you in the end. The gentleness, softness and carefulness of the act reminded you how special he is for you, and the memories still soothe you, but scare you at the same time. From your side of thing, it was challenging death, but he had no idea about that unless he would be able to read your mind.
On May 24th, you witnessed what Richard told you about before - overhearing someone’s terrifying cries from another room, but you couldn’t tell which one, exactly, and also didn’t have the guts to go check it for yourself. The other morning, rumors have spread that it was Schneider. You mentally punished yourself for not getting up and at least trying to offer support, since he has always been nice to you even though you’ve shown him the strangest of yourself.
Finally, May 26th brought some spice into your life full of miserable mood swings, lacking the will to wake up in the morning and staring into empty spaces like a psycho. It was already the first time anyone has tried to communicate with you since Lina’s death, in the form of a letter.
A letter. Of course it was Till. Nobody else in the district had a thing for leaving letters by the doorstep.
We’re going for a long hunt today. Please prepare yourself accordingly, we might be returning after the sun sets. Oliver is taking dinner with him, though, so you don’t have to worry about that. Just make sure you won’t get cold out there.
Then, you were the one to make the cracks spread. Now you really felt like a filthy replacement, and nobody was there to prove you wrong except for Richard, but it seemed as if you couldn’t let his words get to you. Anything positive was immediately denied by your self-criticism and hatred. It was a way of punishment.
So, after spending the morning closed in Richard’s room, desperately trying to get the hang of playing on his electric guitar mixed with additional napping, you went to eat lunch.
The hunch around your table exchanged nods of approval, even Flake, who probably knew what was going on despite not attending the hunt. After all, he was very close with Till.
Speaking of being close to Till, your primal desires haven’t fallen asleep over the course of these few weeks. At this point, you didn’t even try to hold them on a leash anymore, just letting them be there and influence your way of thinking. To fight against the nature was just too tiring, and after a long, painful consultation with Flake, you came to terms with having to live with it.
You remembered Flake’s words, which were haunting you in the current situation.
The memory was crystal clear, not only visually.
“I’m afraid I can’t change anything about it,” he rested his elbows on the desk in his laboratory, supporting his chin with hands balled into fists, “you’ll just have to learn how to live with it, (Y/n). If you wanna stay loyal to Richard, of course.”
“So this will never disappear? I will always feel that way about Till just because he is also a half beast?” arms folded on your chest, your face wielding a depressed expression observed the clean white floor under your dirty black combat boots.
Flake nodded, sighing, “Yes,” then, there was a huge break during which he remained silent, “I think you should inform Richard about this as well.”
“Why should I burden him with that?” you looked at Flake, sight raising up but head staying down, “I don’t think I will.”
“Well, I thought, better prepare him for what’s coming. So in the end, he doesn’t end up blaming you,” Flake leaned back in his chair, “he needs to know that it’s not your fault.”
You finally lifted your head and watched the scientist in disbelief, disgusted by his early assumptions. The over all audacity of being capable to tell you something such as that, to hint at the thought of infidelity; it made you angry. Just a while ago, he and his scientific advice were a hand of hope that was holding you from falling off the cliff. Little did you realize, though, through the blindness of your misery, that the bad news weren’t his fault either. After all, he couldn’t lie, but still - you stood up, ready to leave.
“What the hell, Flake?”
But, in the end, you told Richard anyways while being drunk. And to this day, you don’t remember what his reaction was, because the next morning neither of you spoke about it anymore.
Once being done with the lunch, Oli packed dinner boxes into a huge rucksack and went to dress up into his hunter uniform. You and Till were already awaiting him by the military bases’ entrance when he showed up, proudly carrying a rifle in his arms. His eyes shone with excitement, and although it’s been a while that you three were hunting together, Oli was still thankful about each day and opportunity to be outside. Perhaps he knew how fragile the possibility is, and that he could be thrown back into his old tracks again.
Till led you deep into the forest, deeper than any of you have ever been. You doubted that Till has went this far away himself ever before, but anyways, this man was full of surprises. You’ve already learnt your lesson about that, and suspected there were many more to yet come. Following in his footsteps, you recalled another memory from the horrifying month.
Each night before falling asleep in your room, a soft, calming melody would wrap its’ soothing touch around your shoulders, walking you into the realms of dreaming. The tones carried themselves through the air slowly, with grace, descending on your level no matter how celestially they were being played out.
The hands of the man playing the piano always made sure you made it to sleep safely, without tears, trembles, tensions and fears. You liked to think of these lullabies as of Till’s way to prevent any hysteria caused by sheer silence.
Till. Till and Richard have always made sure that you fell asleep without any issues, both in their own unique ways.
After an hour or two of walking, occasionally having short chats, you have finally arrived to the destined place. As you could have noticed, Till has already been there before, so your assumptions from earlier got debunked. On a wide, strong tree, stood a tree house, under which resided another, smaller lake. Betting that Till has a hidden fishing rod in there somewhere as well, he later proved that to be true.
Nobody had to tell Oli to get up into the tree house, as he sparkled with childish energy upon landing an eye on the structure that Till must have built in the past. He hurried up the ladder, and before getting there yourself, you saw his head peeking out of the window. It was simply adorable, as even Till laughed at his reaction full of appreciation. Eventually, you followed him into the tree house, sitting on the floor in a circle.
You noticed one of Till’s (probably many) fishing rods hanging on one of the walls, and couldn’t help but point it out. The once so-feared hunter shrugged it off with a smile that was perhaps supposed to excuse him from having such a wide spread collection.
“So what’s the plan?” Oli began the conversation; a thing that you’ve never seen him do before. He really was in his natural habitat at the moment, growing a slightly, but visibly different person than he was back in the base.
“We travelled so far so nobody can overhear from us,” Till answered, gesturing for Oli to hand him his rucksack. He did as he was told, and Till pulled out a bottle of water for you to have something to drink from, “we had to disappear from the possible places where anyone could be spying on us, and we really have to discuss what’s going on. Flake passed me some information he got from his fellow scientists, and it’s about us.”
Taking the bottle from him, you shot Till a weirded-out stare, “What do you mean by that?” you raised eyebrows, drinking and then laying the bottle in the middle of your circle. Quickly eyeing Oli, even he seemed confused, and you would have expected him to already know about whatever has been going on. Turns out though, Till was the only one who did.
“You know, no work in the military passes by uncontrolled. The district majors always keep an eye on how many hunters each base has, and how many beasts fell victim to those hunters,” he explained, “and as you might have noticed, we don’t really hunt. So it’s weird to them, and we can walk two paths from here.”
“Hey, slow down a little,” Oli had his input into the conversation, “what even are you talking about? Who is that, why would anyone spy on us? Why do we have to discuss that here?”
“Well, what do the military majors do when they find something suspicious? They send someone to find out what’s going on. And the someones don’t exactly have to let you know they’re there, it’s not in their codex.” Till leaned forward, getting quieter in the way he spoke. You recognized the seriousness and frowned, but Oli kept asking questions.
“So what if they find about us?”
“Uh, trouble? Really big trouble. You don’t want me to specify, do you?”
The two of them exchanged glances which agreed on something together, and Oli shook his head in denial. You spent some time digging through your thoughts, picking out the best sentences to say and the best questions to ask.
“Hey, Till?” you turned to him, “Why didn’t they find out about this sooner? You yourself haven’t killed many beast while being out here alone.”
“That’s because now there’s three of us here, and the results are the same,” Till sighed, “so it might appear like we are just slacking off, or disobeying orders. Both of those options are illegal and they will skin you for it... metaphorically.”
“So then, what are the two paths we can walk which you talked about?” developing your questions further, your full attention rested on only Till. You and Oli patiently waited for his answer, and when he thought through what were the two original plans he came up with, Till finally began with more explanations.
“Well, we can start hunting - that’s the first path. The second path is standing our ground and not hunting,” before continuing, his sight carefully scanned both of you, and then he judged that it was safe to proceed with some crucial words to why he has even brought you here, “and if we do that, we might get our heads chopped off or get our bodies and minds tortured for the rest of our lives. But we might also start a revolution.”
You froze. Oli froze. And the two of you repeated the very last word of Till’s speech in a questioning manner, to which he has nodded. It really surprised you, and you were a little lost in how to react, and at the same time, Oli was taking his time to think what his decision would be. Although he hasn’t said a word, you knew Till was waiting for your feedback.
“I don’t wanna hunt.” the tall, former weaponsmith, now both hunter and that, spoke first and bought you some more time to make up your mind. Till nodded at his answer, obviously happy about the agreement.
Something was telling you that deep inside, Till knew that he wouldn’t have to attempt and change your mind. The idea of a revolution was attractive, and it sparked a small flame in your soul, something that has been missing from your life for the past month. Without a doubt, it felt weird, and uncomfortable, like stepping out of the comfort zone of feeling like worthless shit.
And all it took to reignite your hope was a single word, and the knowledge that you can be a significant part of something that does for a greater cause. You would never expect that, as there were times when you doubted even the God’s blessing to save you. Even though the demons’ long, bony hands still clawed on you from the deepest within, you were able to ignore them just for the sake of making this come true; at least for now.
“I think,” you finally took a deep breath, eyes locked at the floor, “I think the revolution idea sounds great. That’s what Rammstein is said to be about anyways, no? About being different and doing things our own way.”
“Clever girl.” a wide smile spread across Till’s face as his hands reached out to you, patting your shoulder. A sigh of relief flew out of your lungs, yet you barely had an idea about how a ‘revolution’ was going to happen. In fact, you really had no idea what you agreed to, and neither did Oli. Maybe it was just the need to finally engage in something again, catch onto something to hold you up above the darkness’ surface. Something that would give you purpose, and would rid your days of having nothing else to do than remember, mourn, grief and then pretend like it’s going to be okay when you’re speaking to others.
Finally, the conversation moved forward again after you have all sorted out how the future could roughly look like.
“So,” Oli clasped his hands together, talking to Till “how are we going to pull this off, general?”
“Anyhow, so far we’ll just keep doing what we were doing until now,” he stretched behind himself to take a hold of his fishing rod, taking it off of the wall. This signalized that the conversation was coming to an end, and the rest of the day was going to be somehow spent around this place, “then, when someone will finally contact us about what we think we are doing, we’ll be honest. We’ll let them do their stuff, but the more radical they’ll get, the more military bases and districts will get to know about this. And with raising awareness, we are raising the chance of finding like-minded people who might want to join us in what we are doing. The goal is to overthrow the headquarters, and finally put the experimenting for a good use with us, and especially (Y/n), being the scientific examples of a goal.”
You liked Till’s plan, although from this point of view, it just seemed blatantly impossible and crazy, almost like a suicide mission. Folding your arms, you watched him crouch towards the tree house’s entrance, already being on his way out. You, however, weren’t satisfied with everything that has been said.
Leaving the overall made-from-scratch plan to fate’s hands, you concentrated at a term Till has decided to use.
“What experimenting, Till?” you let him know about your curiosity, but he just waved his hand in denial. That was a gesture Till has used a lot during the time spent together, and it never failed to get on your nerves.
“Nevermind,” he was already climbing down the ladder, not possibly being able to make his intentions to avoid the topic any more striking to the eye, “you don’t have to worry about that. Just a little something I overheard from the government.”
Once he was gone, ready to relax by the lake, you immediately turned to Oli in fears that he might try to leave as well without confirming what Till has said. You desperately wanted answers, feeling that the information Till didn’t wish to share with you was crucial for filling in the gaps of you understanding the yet unknown. Maybe it would bring you closer to discovering Till’s ability, maybe it would bring you closer to discover more about the beasts, or yourself. The endless possibilities almost made you itch.
Oli noticed your concern, and although you were already preparing to speak up, he was once again ahead of you, answering the unsaid question.
“Who would I be to lie to you THAT much?” he shifted backwards, leaning his back against the wooden wall as the planks beneath him made a cracking sound, “he didn’t just overhear that from the government, obviously.”
“Yeah, great remark,” you rolled your eyeballs, burying your face in your palms as you asked your brother figure in despair. He was always there for you, there was no way he could leave you in the open ocean, right?, “so will you tell me what’s going on, then? This is really just... frustrating, Oliver, I shouldn’t be kept secrets from anymore. You better tell me.”
“(Y/n),” he looked over from the window again, muttering, “that’s difficult. If we ever keep anything for you, it’s just for the good and.... yeah. This is nothing I am entitled to tell you.”
“I’m sorry, no,” he shook his head, eyes closed, “Till has to tell you that, if anyone.”
“I doubt he will ever break his guard.” you made, perhaps the most annoyed face you have ever been able to pull off. Oli only slightly smiled at your annoyance, knowing best that it’s better off to leave the topic at that.
“Hey, heads up,” he began crawling towards the entrance now as well, “let’s join him so this doesn’t get weird. I don’t want him to think that I spilled it out for you.”
Although you had exactly zero urges and needs to return back to the ground level, you followed Oli outside. As soon as your feet landed on the ground, your peripheral vision revealed that Till was already way too invested in fishing. You, on the other hand, admired the surrounding nature, and so did Oli.
You felt irritated just a moment ago, but the worst of it left you alone after you saw the endless gratitude in his face. There was no way you could be mad at someone so pure. Nobody of that kind could hide things from you intentionally, it was true in the end, that he was maybe just protecting you; not having the heart to be the one to break the mystery for you. Oli sometimes appeared so soft, you wondered how he even manages to survive in the war conditions. At the other hand then, it was true that growing up in this world could internally either kill or steel up even the softest man. Oli was lucky to not be the one that gets murdered in trauma and despair.
“So why are we even returning so late?” you turned back to Till after a while of just, well, existing.
“Because if there are any assholes sent by the majors, they need to leave first, and there’s no way they’ll stay after the sunset,” Till answered you just loud enough for you to hear, “they’re too scaredy to stay outside when the night beasts don’t sleep.”
“Yeah,” you chuckled at the imagination of whoever the ‘bad guys’ were coming into encounter with maybe the most oversized bat you could have come up with, “that’s true. Didn’t really think of that.”
The rest of the day was the best afternoon you have spent during the past month, while also being completely sober. From time to time, scary and intimidating thoughts crept back at you, but the presence of Till and Oli made them go away as fast as they have appeared. There was, in all honesty, no place for regret, guilt and falling into pits of existential crises, especially when these two were around. Mostly because after some time of fishing, Till grew restless and had the time of his life teasing both you and Oli.
Just for the sake of calming Till’s nature down, you asked him to teach you fishing techniques and tell you something about this hobby that he usually does instead of his job. You spent some time on the lakeside, while Oli would lay on the ground behind you and stare up at the blue skies. For him, this place was a paradise; so much that he didn’t even feel the need to recharge in loneliness after a few hours passed by.
Then finally, while the Sun was setting, you all sat by the prominent tree and ate the boxed dinners. Watching the Sun slowly disappear behind the horizon and between the trees was a magnificent sight, and none of you let out a single peep while observing the nature’s wonder.
Once you were finished with the food, Oli returned the empty boxes back into his rucksack. Till spoke.
“It’s great that we haven’t disconnected from each other after all the stuff that has happened,” hugging his knees while sitting on the ground, his sight was still admiring the sunset, “I was kind of scared, it really seemed like we might completely detach from each other. Nobody spoke to anybody. It was frustrating.”
“You tell me.” you sighed. The honesty you shared in the moment was heartbreaking, as you finally had an insight into someone else’ perception.
“All of us were in incredibly dark places,” Oli joined the contemplation, “I was really worried for everyone. Some really looked like they were an inch away for giving everything up.”
“Well some didn’t only look, some actually were.” you turned to Oli, suddenly realizing what you just hinted at. A wave of shame itched over you, and you scolded yourself again - Till’s concerned, piercing eyesight wouldn’t have to pin right through you if you had at least some self control over your words.
“I get it,” he nodded, turning back to the sunset, “but let’s not ever even think about that again.”
It was only a few days later when you found yourself gasping for air as you sprinted through the woods, quickly back to the military base. You knew Richard was waiting for you by the entrance; he promised he would.
Your little adventure into the short distance of the surrounding nature was supposed to be just a small check for Frieda’s lost equipment. Nothing serious. But as another bullet hit the ground right next to your moving feet, you understood how serious the situation suddenly became.
This wasn’t making any sense. This wasn’t going as Till has planned out. Nobody showed up. Nobody went to you to confirm that you restrain from hunting. Nobody even made sure - they just decided to try and remove you like that, out of nowhere. The spies, whoever they were. You didn’t even manage to see how they looked. You only saw a dark figure and then, boom, a bullet fired right past your shoulder.
“REESH!” you yelled out as soon as the military base’s entrance appeared in the visible distance, and you spotted your lover standing right there, so far clueless about what’s even going on, “REESH! GET INSIDE! GO!”
And then, another bullet. Now Richard’s guard was finally up, that he also just heard the silenced gunshot land to the dirt close to you. Fear rushed through his veins like an unstoppable racing horse.
“(Y/N)!” he shouted back, standing his ground. No matter the fright, Richard would not get inside the base before you would.
There was no point in wasting your energy on yelling anymore, as you very well recognized Richard’s stubbornness. Although no further ammunition fired your direction, you sprinted like crazy, crashing right into Richard’s embrace. Together, you escorted yourselves inside the base as Richard aggressively pulled the lever that was sometimes used as a secondary option to closing the huge entrance shut.
Your heart beating in the adrenaline rush, sweat running down your forehead, you stared at each other in scare and fright. You were just glad that you were inside, and he was terrified because of still having no idea what just went on.
“What the fuck?” a panicky voice jumped from his throat, carefully grabbing your arms with his shaky hands, “What happened?!”
“Reesh, they’re coming for me, and for Till, and Oliver probably too,” you almost wheezed, trying to catch your breath. You felt the presence of other people slowly filling the doorsteps to the hallway, “probably, I don’t know, the government people. They’re here now for sure if they weren’t before.”
His burning gaze shifted from you to Till, who stood shocked, but also furious, in the doorway. Behind him stood Schneider, and you probably saw Oliver’s head peeking from behind the men in the front. You sensed what was about to go on. A fight.
“Reesh, please don’t-”
There was no way to stop it. His grasp left your arms behind as he stormed towards where Till stood. You only heard swear words, yelling, insulting, cussing. Your own world, though, began falling apart once again at the chaos, making all the voices fade into the background. Tears ran down your face as you fell on your knees, teeth clenched in your best attempts to not show everyone that the tough, uncompromising woman who came into this district to hunt could shatter as easily as a mirror.
You sobbed silently to yourself, giving birth to tiny markings on the concrete floor left by your tears which have already escaped your cheeks. You would never want them to fight over you.
“Richard, Till, please,” you mumbled in a weak voice, but anyone could barely hear you over the fuss that went on and on in the background, mean noises raging through the hallways, “please stop it.”
But nobody heard you, until a familiar figure squatted beside you, embracing you in his arms.
You knew you could always rely to Oli, as the fight proceeded to happen, leaving you absolutely helpless. If it wasn’t for him, you would probably kneel on the concrete completely by yourself. Not like his presence made the situation significantly better, though; you were still deadly afraid to turn around and witness the Armageddon.
“She almost died you stupid masochist!” Richard took no mercy towards his, otherwise, friend with whom he had an unbreakable bond. At the moment, however, he hated him from the depths of his heart, “That’s because of YOUR shitty plans which just went fucking WRONG! AND IT COULD HAVE COSTED ANOTHER LIFE!”
Till defended himself, but you couldn’t make out any words any more. You didn’t even want to, not anymore. Their fight jumped from English to German in no time, anyways.
You were desperate.
Chapter 10: The Government
Richard trusts you with his deepest fears and worries, and Till gives you a taste of the hunter's medicine.
Sometimes duty calls, and you can’t take a step back and say no.
It has been happening all over the past. Once any war saw the God’s light, men had to get up and go. Leave their homes behind, leave their old selves within the walls of their houses, and go. They couldn’t look back, and some of them couldn’t even return back when everything was over. Their wives would cry and beg, attempt for any shady trick to keep their men at home, safe, under their seemingly unbreakable protection. Men resisted, went anyways, and those who sided with their significant others had the government resist for them.
You couldn’t beg God at the very moment, once duty called. Once you knew the man you wanted to die of old age with will not return the same, or never return back at all. It was an unbearable, overwhelming ache, but most of all, it was just so unfair. You would hectically walk around the dining room, salty water emerging from your eyes and wetting your face, clothes, then finally the ground. Cussing, sobbing, sometimes yelling, while the man would sit on a chair, looking downwards, clueless about how to comfort something that cannot be changed.
There was no honor in that; only pain.
The situation for you right now was exactly the same - except that you and Richard swapped roles. You were the armed, beastly recruit, whereas he happened to be the desperate, loyal, human lover of yours that would give anything to keep you at the base and never let you out again.
You sat in the community room where you once celebrated and partied like animals, now Richard’s words would shoot through you and leave you bleeding without his knowledge. It was the evening after he had his fight with Till, so neither of you allowed yourself any rest before this entire matter was settled. The question was, though - could it even be settled at that point?
His footsteps circled the room as he found it hard to keep himself from crying out of the vain attempts to change your mind. You felt the same, but neither of you were willing to adapt to each other’s point.
“Richard, it’s not like death is guaranteed for any of us out there,” you shook your head, speaking in a low voice, “it will be the same as before, we’ll just have to be more careful. Less fucking around, that’s all.”
“But we don’t even know anything about them,” he ran a hand through his hair roughly, frustrated, “for what we can imagine, they could be able to take out the three of you without a single issue. How can you say they won’t be capable of doing that, (Y/n)?”
“See! It’s senseless to go out there, for you, and everyone!”
“I wish you could understand.” you sighed.
“What?” Richard turned to you, eyebrows narrowed. He wished to win the argument for everyone’s sake, but even if you let him, you wouldn’t betray the two hunters on the next day, “What more is there to understand? Life, safety, it comes first. You can’t risk your life like that, it’s not the government who came up with this reckless plan to stand your ground like fanatical maniacs!”
“Richard!” you barked back at him, “Are you listening to yourself?! Did you forget what we are?!”
For a moment, he stopped, forehead buried in his palm. The silence and lack of movement had the tension between you strengthen, and so, Richard broke the silence before you would stand up and leave. You really wanted to do that just a few seconds ago, but obviously you were too predictable.
“You’re right, I’m sorry,” he walked to you, and you wouldn’t really expect his next move as Richard knelt in front of you, leaning his arms on your thighs. He rested his head on top of those arms of his. For the first time, you heard him sob, “I just don’t want to lose you, you know? It’s so hard. I would go out there with you if I could, but I can’t, because I’m not the same as you. I can’t do many things, just because we’re not the same.”
Startled by the sudden shift in attitude, you looked down on Richard. Placing a hand on the top of his head after a while, you closed your eyes. No matter how much of a diva he could be, at this point, his panic was only out of pure fear and despair. You knew he couldn’t control that, not many people could.
For a moment, you thought whether people from outside of the community room were listening, even unwillingly. Although the doors were closed and locked for the time being, you had no idea about how much the walls were sound proof.
“Don’t be sorry Reesh. But if it’s not me, Oli and Till, who will it be?”
“Whoever else, I don’t care!” his hands balled into fists as tears soaked into your pants. Your heart ached, but so did his.
“Look, if we succeed, the war might stop in what, a decade?” you forced a soothing, hopeful tone into your voice, although you yourself thought otherwise. At the same time, your nature couldn’t allow you to just sit and do nothing. You had to at least try, even if it meant failing yourself and everyone, so in the end you could say that you at least gave it a shot, “Wouldn’t that be awesome, Reesh? We wouldn’t be in danger anymore.”
You would softly stroke his hair, playing with the black spikes in a calming manner, just so he would know that you’re still there while he’s speaking.
“It would be great,” he agreed, “but Rammstein must not fall for the sake of it.”
“Don’t worry, okay? I’m joining Till on this plan because I don’t want any further loss, either. If we can last through it, people won’t have to die in fights.”
“Why can’t you just side with humanity?” Richard cried out.
“Humanity is what started it all. Besides, haven’t you noticed? We’re in a battle against something we can’t gain control over. It’s pointless. We adapt or we die, but we cannot defeat what we have brought upon ourselves.”
“Hell... I know,” his voice got quieter, even the sobbing did. For a moment, you felt like he was growing ashamed of himself, “but it’s so hard to admit. It will take me time to deal with.”
You pushed the chair behind yourself, getting off of it and kneeling on the ground in front of Reesh. He immediately pulled you into a hug and you returned the favor, becoming a sad pile of misery, made out of two people leaning onto one another. You still felt his wet cheeks rubbing against yours, but it seemed like he has already stopped crying in such an intense way. Giving the two of you a moment to rest your minds in silence, you wouldn’t let loose on, or let alone pull away, from the hug. He deserved to be held, at least for once.
After a while, you lifted your head to look into his glassy, reddened eyes. The pity you felt put a weight on your back.
“How about we go now rest to your room?” you asked him silently.
“I don’t wanna go to mine tonight,” Richard muttered, his eyes suddenly trying to find a different spot to look at, “we should go to yours.”
“I don’t want Paul to know about me for a while,” he shook his head, “I don’t want him to hear me.”
“Oh?” you slowly stood up, offering Richard a hand to grab onto as he would get off of the ground as well, “How come? You and Paul are so close together. Why wouldn’t you want him to hear you?”
“He’s too assertive to me lately,” he pulled himself up on his feet, “he’s mad at me for something. I can tell.”
You thought about what he told you before answering, as you walked to the door and unlocked it. Opening and checking both sides of the hallway, you found out nobody was present. The dining room doors were shut and the corridor’s lights were shut off until you stepped outside, making them automatically light up.
Arm reaching inside the community room for Richard to see, you gestured him to follow you outside as the air was clear. This was so much better than having someone listen on you, and you felt glad that others were respectful enough to know when it’s appropriate to just leave two people alone, regardless of them occupying a room that should be accessible to everyone at any time. It was considerate.
“Hmm,” you hummed as Richard followed you, together making your way downstairs, “have you tried talking to him about it? It kind of sounds like he’s waiting for you to reach out. Or at least, that’s what I guess he would do.”
As you passed by the armory, you noticed the lights inside were lit. It caught your attention, and so, you quickly glanced inside through the half-opened door. Seeing Till and Oli hanging out in there as if it was noon, you raised eyebrows, but couldn’t point anything out to Richard right now. Looking up at him, you thankfully found out that he had no idea about the two of them being inside, or at least he appeared so.
Despite the tight situation between you and your lover at the moment, you felt a spark of interest electrify your soul, even feeling a potential opportunity. Maybe it was a sign that you shouldn’t fall into a deep sleep tonight - you would see later on.
“I don’t really know how to talk about the issue between me and Paul,” Richard answered you quietly with a hint of insecurity in his voice, “but partly, you’re right. He is waiting for me to reach out to him.”
“Why don’t you do it, then?”
“As I said, it’s difficult. He is difficult,” he sighed as you entered your room, and you closed the door behind yourselves, but didn’t lock it this time, “but I am difficult, too.”
“No, it’s not being difficult,” you corrected him with what you thought was right, “it’s just being humane. You have been holding it together for too long now, it’s only normal to break down like that. These are not problems of ordinary people with ordinary lives, after all. We’re soldiers. It was never meant to go easy without breaking down.”
Freeing himself of his pants and pulling his shirt over his head, you could tell he was exhausted. Richard folded his clothes on your chair and then crawled into bed, getting close to the wall so you would have enough space. It was sometimes difficult to fit in a bed that was built for one person, but you managed.
Following similar steps as him, except that you didn’t take off your shirt, you followed him under the blanket after turning the lights off.
“Yeah, I’m just... scared.”
“Don’t be now.” you snuggled to him.
“No, you just, listen please,” Richard’s arm wrapped around you, exactly as it did every single night you two spent together, “you, Till and Paul. I feel the closest to you out of all the people here, and now all three of you are so just an inch away from slipping out of my reach. You and Till threw yourselves headfirst into something so dangerous, and Paul is acting as if I was a stranger to him. And then, there’s the thing with you and Till, you know... and...-”
“So you’re afraid of being left alone in this shithole?” a smile appeared on your face, but not because you would somehow feed off of his struggles. You just softened at seeing him admit his deepest worries, and it made you glad that you were worthy enough of knowing them. At the same time, from your point of view, his fears were absurd, although very real for him. You understood, because you’ve been there as well, just a month and about a week ago, before finding this place.
“Yeah.” he spoke loud as if he was not to fall asleep, slowly letting you see the core of this entire issue, “it’s so frustrating to feel this for so long and never speak about this. I bottled it up too much.”
“Reesh, don’t beat yourself up over that,” on the other hand, your way of speaking was so silent, almost whispering, “I don’t think Paul is the kind of person to leave you behind just because he has a problem. Think of it the other way, okay? You two are here for each other. That means, as much as you need him, he needs you too. And that works for everyone here.”
“It makes sense.”
“Yeah,” Richard closed his eyes, pulling you even closer to himself, “at least something does.”
“Good night, Reesh.” you figured it was time to end the conversation.
“Good night, (Y/n).”
Settling in a comfortable position, you had just way too many urges to close your eyes and wander off into a slumber, but you resisted. Eyes open wide, staring at whatever was visible in the darkness, just to keep your awareness there with you. You had to wait some time for Richard to fall asleep, so you could find out what the hell was going on in the armory.
Over time, it became harder and harder to keep yourself content with not sleeping. Finally, when you began hearing Richard snore progressively louder, you figured it was the best time to make your way out.
You carefully grabbed his arm and positioned it back to himself so it wouldn’t be caging you in the bed anymore. Piece by piece, you moved yourself to the bed’s edge and carefully rolled out on the ground. That way, you wouldn’t make any unnecessary noise with sitting up. Now, kneeling on the ground, your hand found a grip on the chair and so, you confidently stood up, picking up your pants which you left hanging over the chair’s back.
Mindful of each step you took, you finally made it to the door. You pulled the door knob and opened the door only to have a hole that you could sneak through. When you were closing the door behind yourself, Richard was still snoring. Therefore, you considered the mission a success, and now you just dressed up back into your pants and silently walked to the armory.
When you find yourself in front of the doorway, it was exactly how you remembered it from passing by. Standing by the opening, you noticed your figure was already shadowing inside, and there was no point in prolonging your entrance. Once you walked inside, Till and Oli didn’t look surprised at all. It had you thinking that after all, they actually expected you to come.
“So you figured?” Till was sitting by one of the working tables, arm rested on top of it. No tea was served by Oli this time, and it was only reasonable since midnight was approaching.
“You bet I did,” you walked closer, taking a seat with your two colleagues, “what are you doing here so late?”
“Figuring stuff out. The thing that happened to you today wasn’t supposed to happen.” Till answered. From close up, you noticed dark circles forming under his eyes - he could really use some sleep. All of you could, after all. But putting the responsibility of Till’s plan on yourselves, you couldn’t afford it right now.
“Obviously,” you sighed, tapping the working table’s top, “but what can we do? If we stay inside and take cover here, everyone will be in danger, not only us.”
“That’s exactly what we are struggling with,” Oli took his place in the conversation. He also looked exhausted; God knows how many hours they’ve spent going over potential possibilities and options in this place, “it would be okay if it was the government, because Till knows a lot about them. This surprise makes us think though, that it might have not been them.”
You tilted your head backwards, trying to get a hold of what Oli was trying to explain. Was there possibly another player joining in on this game, or were they just going over the realistic edge in speculations?
“So somebody else then, huh,” you blinked a few times, returning back to how you were, “like who? People from another district disliking us? Come on. I only saw a glimpse, but what they wore was nowhere close to a soldier uniform. It must have been someone coming from a higher post, thus, someone from the government.”
“That’s a logical way of thinking, but not quite right,” Till decided to interfere your thought process, “it’s illegal for the government to attack without having a solid proof that you’re also doing something illegal. Their proof couldn’t have been solid in any way so far. They would have had to talk to us in the first place, but they didn’t. I really don’t think it’s the government.”
“Then who would it be?” you questioned.
Till just shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Right after that, the worn out Oli decided to stand up from his chair and make his way around the table. You noticed he was aiming for the door, and it became obvious that this was just too much for him at that point.
“Sorry guys but I’m going to have a rest, I won’t think of anything anyways if I’m in this state,” he yawned, walking out, “I’ll leave you two here alone. See ya.”
Almost in synchronization, you and Till wished goodnight to the leaving huntsman and were truly left in silence, alone. Till grew visibly nervous at the thought of sharing some alone time with you, and you knew why. You weren’t going to go easy on him, still dwelling on the temptation to know the secrets he’s been hiding from you.
You gave it time, actually over-thinking the topic of the whoever that wanted to kill you not being sent by the government. It was, however, hard to wrap your head around it. At least Till had some time to contemplate the situation as well, but not for long. Oli was right - he wouldn’t possibly think of anything in this state, and so wouldn’t you. Why try, then?
“Till, we’re colleagues, and if we don’t fall victim to whatever is ahead, we’ll be colleagues for quite some time.” you bit a piece off of what you wished to discuss.
“What do you mean?” he tried to play dumb, but you would outplay him quickly.
“That I want to know alongside who I am throwing myself into this act of dedication. See,” your eyes pierced his, but once again, you immediately had to stop the eye contact. It twisted your guts, sent shivers across your body and erased your thoughts. You continued as soon as you got back on track, “I really deserve to know what your ability is before this situation gets even more intense. We should know as much as possible about each other, Till.”
Till closed his eyes and folded his mighty arms on his chest.
“Oh, (Y/n),” he exhaled, “it’s not important. It won’t help you anyhow, it will maybe just make things worse if I show you.”
“Are you scared that I’ll back off from the plan?” you raised eyebrows, stepping your game up with an attempt for an intimidating attitude, “Till, you know I wouldn’t.”
“Please. You’ll just find me disgusting. I don’t want you to know.”
“Come on, you’ve already said enough,” you frowned, “I already know it’s something dangerous, horrible. Why would showing or telling me hurt?”
“I’m not exactly proud of it, you know,” even his voice escalated onto a higher tone as he lashed back out at you, “I’m literally a killing machine for the beasts! I hate it, I would rather be a simple human than this.”
He realized it right after speaking. In his wave of emotions, you finally dug a hint out of him. A killing machine, you repeated in your mind as you leaned forward. It was visible that he regretted the words slipping out of his mouth, recognizing that there is no way back from this point.
“A killing machine?” you provoked. To this day, you don’t understand how it came over you that you had more confidence standing up to Till than anyone else at the moment.
“Fine, whatever. Fine!” out of nowhere, his hand landed on yours and he tightly grasped it, holding onto you as if you were the most important bit of possession he had in his life, “Look into my eyes. Go on.”
And you did as you were told.
Suddenly, it all made sense.
Your eyes locked into each other, you began recalling every single time you two exchanged glances; how it felt, to be exact. It always stripped you off of your own self, weakened you, pulled all emotions and sense out of you and the moment you looked away, everything returned into your guts like a punch.
Nothing was returning this time, however. He held on with the stare, and so did you. Your head felt light, and his palm covering yours grew progressively warmer, until you couldn’t feel the warmth anymore - was it him who would heat up, or was it you whose limbs were getting cold, fingers twisted in cramps, unable to feel his touch anymore. Vision going blurry, you wanted to speak, you wanted to express how insanely much you wanted him to stop, but the ability to speak ceased from your throat.
Everything felt light like a feather. You had no feelings anymore, you had no sense, you had no idea what was happening, except for the fact that it felt like freedom for a while. That was, until a weak stream of blood escaped one of your nostrils, making its’ way down your pale chin and cold lips.
Till looked away. Everything disappeared. Sense, feeling, emotions, memories, knowledge, and everything that was you, came back to you with the dull, yet powerful punch.
You gasped in fright, throwing yourself on your feet and backing away as far as possible, only to fall right on your ass as the world spun. Suddenly, your hands could feel the ground and the warmth of blood as you wiped it from under your nose. You were terrified. Scared. Frightened. Shaking. You didn’t know whether you were still doomed or if you were going to live after what he has done.
Looking up at Till, who held his stare somewhere else, tears fighting their way out of the corners of his glassy eyes, you figured out his ability. You understood why, back in the forest, he killed the corrupted animal without making a single noise.
You realized it, finally; that each time you wished to look into Till’s eyes and he wished to look into yours, you wouldn’t see Till in those blue-green pupils - you would see death. You would face it in those eyeballs, tempt it to take you, because you sure as hell wouldn’t be the first victim.
When you collected yourself, Till was pouring clear water from one of many Oli’s water bottles into a cup. The tears from his face were already wiped away and his eyes weren’t glassy anymore. You observed him in disbelief, as he carried the cup of water to you. He sat on the ground there, to serve as a company.
“I’m sorry.” was ultimately the first thing he said. You took the cup from him speechless. He gave you a taste of death. How were you going to cope with that? Your brain was a mess at the moment, and he understood, thus leaving you in silence for as long as you wanted. Currently, you were just fed up. Fed up with the fact that no matter which part of you you’d let loose, both of them, both Till and Richard, would be danger for you in the end.
You felt pathetic about yourself for having these thoughts now, but it was the first thing that came to your mind right after the huge cluster of confusion and fear. Now that you felt more alive and figured that the effects of Till’s ability were just temporary, you spoke.
“Till, how?” you thirsted for more knowledge. The urges were unstoppable.
“How come you can do this?” you specified, your voice thin, “How does it happen? To kill... just by looking...”
“It only works on beasts, so it works on you too. Ultimately, it would even work on me,” he shrugged, laughing for a bit at the irony, “I can’t even look at myself in the mirror. Suicide has never been easier.”
“Shut up!” you nudged him with the bit of playfulness that you worked so hard to find within yourself.
“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t. I don’t look me in the eyes when I stand in front of a mirror, don’t worry,” he immediately took the words to calm you down, “but the government never chooses its’ victims.”
“What?” your eyes widened.
“You think we’ve been born with these abilities? How possibly could we?” Till suddenly began uncovering more than you came for, more than you asked for. Maybe you wanted him to stop, but at least you wouldn’t have to bother him with questions anymore later. Giving in to the horribly fast and speedy train of various feelings and sensations, you listened to what he had to say, “Each of us half-humans, we weren’t born like this, (Y/n). The government did it to us, when we were just children. We became their little experiments to fight the disease, but it failed. And then they erased our memories, like that.”
Till snapped his fingers to represent how easily and fast everything has happened, and the gesture was more appropriate than how he originally meant it. You took a deep breath, then gulped down the entire cup of water. Once he was finally giving you what you craved for so long, it all hurt so incredibly. There was no wonder Oli didn’t want to be the one to tell you.
First, it was fear and thudding of doom, then you felt sorry, and now, although silent on the outside, your insides were squirming in anger. You had no hold of your emotions whatsoever.
“Are you for real with this?” you wanted to confirm that what you just heard has actually happened, and Till is not shitting around.
“Why would I lie about that?”
That was it. You couldn’t sit on the ground anymore. The urge to rage against the machine has never been stronger inside of you than now, and Till recognized it. You stood up, ready to leave for some warm shower, but before you mercilessly walked away, you turned back to him one last time.
“And how come you remember it, then?” you asked, “If your memories were erased.”
“I’m an error in the code.” he shrugged again, looking at you as if he wasn’t completely sure how to answer you. Perhaps he himself had no idea why he was the only one, out of all the people he knew, to remember it.
However it was, it fueled him to go forward. The memories have. They fueled him to wait for someone like you to show up, they fueled him to come up with this plan, and to proceed with it even though the odds for screwing up and losing someone were higher than ever. And now, it fueled you too. The lust to bite back on your parents for allowing the government to do this to you, to bite back on the government in general, to bite back on all the majors who force you to slaughter your own kind even though they know what you are and how you became it.
“Great,” you nodded, fire burning in the centre of your pupils. It wasn’t visible, but you felt it, “see you tomorrow, then. We’ll take what’s ours.”
With these words, the sound of your heavy boots thudding against the floor gradually disappeared from the armory’s reach. Not caring about waking up Richard anymore, you busted into your room and grabbed clean clothes, a towel and a cheap shower gel. You were eager to take the hottest shower in your life, and you knew you were going to enjoy it more than any other, ever before.
As expected, though, you woke him up. He shifted under the blankets.
“(Y/n)? Come back here, where are you going?” his innocent voice called out for you, hand searching the bed for any hint of your body.
“I’m just going to take a shower because I couldn’t fall asleep,” you lied for the sake of his peaceful sleep, “I’ll be right back.”
The next day, thankfully, Richard didn’t seem to be suspicious of anything regarding your midnight shower. He carried on normally, even after you left for another “hunt” with Till and Oli. He could have been feeling a little down, and deep inside he was worried still, but wouldn’t let it show. As most of his work was finished in the morning, his afternoon was free except for some additional work that he could do anytime.
Right now, he was in the garden having a smoke, which was his usual after-lunch routine. The door to the small place resembling nature got pushed open, and he wondered who it could be. To his own surprise, seeing the small, familiar guy whose hands leaned against his own hips and whose face judged him, Richard was relieved.
“You love so passionately to the point you hurt yourself, Reesh.” Paul walked closer, leaning sideways against the wall Richard was standing by.
“You don’t have to remind me.” coming to find out what Paul seemed to be intending to talk about, he frowned and had a drag from his cigarette. Although he was really happy with his presence, he didn’t want to appear so easily approachable for Paul. After all, they weren’t treating each other exactly well for the past week or so.
“She’ll be fine, you don’t have to worry.” Paul pushed on the topic.
“Who are you to know?” Richard said, “And why are you even here? You act as if I don’t exist lately. What’s the matter all of sudden?”
“It wasn’t me who started it, Richard,” he shared his personal insight on the situation, “you were the first to forget about me. I’m not gonna act like it doesn’t hurt me, I’m not that kind of person.”
Richard would happily answer him, maybe throw himself into another argument, although he would hate to do that. This was the moment when he and Paul were finally going to sort things out with each other; it would be working out perfectly, but out of nowhere, Richard found himself unable to concentrate. A wave of cold air brushed along his skin making the hairs on his bare arms stand up. The sudden terror pulsing through his brain told him that he was having a terrible premonition, but he couldn’t specify it.
“Oh,” he tried to shake the weird feeling off, “so you’re jealous then?”
Before Paul was able to answer in some rather teasing way, the door swung open once more. It was a surprise that whoever opened them didn’t completely break them down. In the doorway stood Schneider, shocked and restless.
“Guys, stop the chit chat, put down the cigarette,” he spoke, completely serious. What threw Richard off even more was the fact that Schneider’s voice was breaking, “you have to see this. We’re fucked. This is about all of us now.”
They have both done as told. In fact, Richard has never put out a cigarette so quickly in his life. He rushed out of the garden towards the military base’s entrance, where you and Till stood, but you weren’t alone. Each of you held a saddled beast on a leash, and if that wasn’t enough, Till was blindfolded; you were the one to suggest that to him, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Two beasts would soon reside in the very basement of your military district, but one person was missing. Oliver was nowhere to be seen, but Till wouldn’t be the one to explain what happened this time. He was speechless, blaming himself for whatever happened out there.
“Call a fucking plane or something,” you exhaustedly scanned every bystander. You were in no position to give orders, but this was an exception, “I’ll help you get these beasts to the basement, they’ll come in handy. But we’re storming the goddamn government right after that.”
“What happened?” Richard spoke up, standing still in shock.
“They got Oli. They’ll give him back.”
“I’ll go call for the transport.” Schneider nodded without hesitations, disappearing back into the military base. Frieda, his sister, followed him as she held onto his arm, very obviously terrified by the situation. By you, by Till. Sometimes it seemed like she was blind to your identities.
Flake was the one to gesture at you to follow him to the basement. You reached out for Till, patted his shoulder, and that was a sign for him to march forward as Flake led you to the basement. The two beasts, one a bear and the other one a huge, mutated fox, barely made it downstairs. But with enough conviction from your side, everything could have been done.
“How am I supposed to take care of these?” Flake trembled as you let the two animals loose.
“Don’t worry Flake, they understand,” you looked at him with the most trustful glance, already leaving the room, “they know not to give you a reason to put them down. Just come, leave them here, close the vault door. Nothing will happen, I promise.”
The scientist raised eyebrows, following you and Till, who finally tore off his blindfold, “If you say so, (Y/n). But if anything happens, it’s on you, not me.”
“Yeah sure, I’ll gladly take that on myself.” you shook your head and rushed back to where you came from.
Before the helicopter arrived, everyone understandably wanted answers and explanations. As you have noticed, Till was in no means comfortable in front of the huge crowd that hungered for the story telling, and so you quickly shifted all the attention to yourself after most of them chose to bother Till with their curiosity. After yesterday, you figured he had enough of explanations and delivering bad news.
And so, you began telling, as briefly as possible since the transport jet was to arrive any time. You told them everything - from getting encircled by the enemies, through them riding the beasts that you’ve stolen, knocking out Oliver and taking him with them, to you and Till fighting the rest of the enemies off, although they have also preyed after your bodies. They weren’t successful, and so, you’ve killed them, took the beasts and rode them back to the military base.
It was your premiere of killing a human being, but you haven’t told your listeners that. Nobody had to know. Till, on the other hand, seemed to have experience; after all, this was war. Murder wasn’t exactly illegal, especially if the act meant saving yourself.
Everybody seemed to be startled, at shock. They resided in silence, drowning in their own thoughts. Richard nor Till would leave your side from that moment on, even once the transport jet has arrived. You sat in between them, feeling guarded. But the fires of anger were still eating up on everything you carried within yourself, to the point you weren’t able to recognize yourself.
You would have never guessed what war could awaken in you; what taking your fellow away could awaken in you. The viciousness must have been radiating from you, as you imagined yourself in the government’s headquarters, busting the major’s door open and threatening to tear his head off if he didn’t give you Oli back.
And so, imagination quickly took its’ form in reality.
Keeping your cool while submitting a request to have a talk with the headmaster, an outburst made of pure hatred boiled in your mind, your heart, your veins. Richard was making sure it wasn’t too obvious, while Till was the one to sort everything out with the secretaries and guards. Both knew that your time was yet to come. Finally, you were the next ones in line.
The headmaster looked quite surprised at the sight of the seven soldiers, with you in lead, stormed inside. Guardsmen stood all across his room, but you were fearless when it came to taking them into consideration.
Your hands smashed against his expensive, smooth, wooden desk. The guardsmen’s alert went up, but so far, they haven’t done anything.
“You filthy piece of shit,” you spat, words venomous like those of a rattlesnake, “you really consider it appropriate to take people away like that? To send your oh-so-very-inconspicuous spies after us even though you have no guaranteed proof that we have disobeyed your orders?!”
He smirked. A strong, German accent hitting you, fueling you with even more wrath as you listened to his answer.
“Young Lady, oh, who hurt you?” the headmaster grinned, showing his teeth, “Have you and your friends escaped from the mental health ward? I might have the security escort you back there, after all. Those poor souls of the war deserve help more than anyone, I see...”
“No!” you shouted, “We are Rammstein. We were nine, but now we are seven. I request, no, I DEMAND you to give us back the eighth one!”
“Where was your help when Lina died?!” contrary to your expectations, Schneider pushed his way to the front, to stand right alongside you. The words about Lina only worked as another trigger to get you even angrier, even though the headmaster probably barely knew who Lina ever was.
“Oh,” he seemingly ignored Schneider, “so your fellow mate got lost somewhere in the wilderness? Do you want us to send our forces to search after him?”
“He didn’t get lost, he got taken away! By YOUR forces!” you raged.
“Don’t accuse us of something we merely have anything to do with.” he leaned back in his armchair, giving you the most insensitive, uncaring look ever.
Before anyone holy could even say Amen, you were already stretched over the desk, a clawing hand reaching for his disgusting face rounded by tons of fat and wealth. You would shred the skin off of his meat if you had to, just to get a clue about Oli’s whereabouts, and his attitude was like trying to put out a fire using alcohol.
Nevertheless, your actions were beyond his will to withstand. Even if Schneider and Richard quickly pulled you away from him without you even managing to touch him, the guardsmen huddled around you. The smell of trouble filled the atmosphere, but you were still furious.
“I got all the rights to imprison all seven of you right here, right now. You only hurt yourself when you start giving me reasons.” he flaunted his power. There was nothing this man could have done that would not piss you off even tad bit more than you already were.
“Then don’t lie! Tell us, where the hell is my brother?!” you screamed into his face, regardless being much further away from him than before. You didn’t even notice the guardsmen pointing their rifles at you, ready to end your life anytime without feeling a single hint of remorse. They only waited for the headmaster’s allowance to fire a shot, and everything would be over.
“Get out,” he frowned, wrinkles appearing around his small, chubby nose, “get out or I’ll end you one by one and nobody will even know it happened.”
You were already taking in another load of air, prepared to flood him with your words of hatred and intimidation, but someone suddenly grabbed your hand from behind. Before you could realize, the person was dragging you away. It wasn’t Richard; you would have recognized his hand.
This was Till. Bold, pissed, uncaring about whether or not Richard will throw another fit over his actions. He has had enough.
“Fuck them, (Y/n),” he growled, aiming for the exit, “we’ll find Oliver ourselves. Maybe it wasn’t them after all.”
Chapter 11: Shared Fears
You, Till and Oli make the first step towards reaching your goal. But what will it cost you?
Hello my lovely readers!
I am sorry to let you know, but I am taking a two-three week break after this chapter's release. For further information, please see this: https://waidmannsheilrammfic.tumblr.com/post/187856934646/a-break-announcement
Thank you so much for your support and patience, I value it above all!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You stood behind Till, stretching out on your tip toes because his eyes were too high for you to reach, especially from behind. You were carefully tying a blindfold over his vision before setting out to look for Oli by yourselves. The saddled beasts were already waiting outside, ready to set off and go. You were sure that they would lead you where you needed to go in order to rescue your fellow huntsman, a brother not bound by bloodline.
Richard walked into the room, carrying your rifle in his arms in a way he wouldn’t wish to give it to you in the first place. He put it on the community’s room table, aside where you were preparing with Till. Once you were finished with the blindfold and shifted your attention to Richard, however, you couldn’t not notice the tired expression in his face. His eyelids seemed too heavy for him to hold up, the corners of his mouth pointed slightly downwards and wrinkles unwillingly formed on his forehead. You felt bad, but there was nothing you could do for him. He had to trust you and you had to trust him, otherwise, the entire foundation of your relationship could have been long fallen apart.
You were wordless, picking up your rifle and strapping it to your back. Even Till had his unique rifle, now that you weren’t going to face only beasts, but also humans. Nothing was guaranteed on this adventure, including safety, survival and luck. Till walked out of the room, guided by his own senses, so you were finally left alone with Richard for one of the last times. You have just returned back from the headquarters a few hours ago.
“It’s a nighttime mission for you,” Richard forced a smile on his face, embracing you into his arms without a question. Just as if he was realizing that he might never see you again, his hand would slowly run across your back, soothing all the tension you could have felt, “I’ve never had the chance to have one.”
“It’s better off not having such a mission, trust me.” you clinged onto him, wishing to stay in this position for a while more. Knowing that Oli’s life was at stake, though, you pulled away and before his hands slid off of your arms fully, you grabbed his hands.
“I wish I could go with you,” his voice softened, a knot being mercilessly tied in his throat, “I’m still so scared.”
“Reesh. Don’t forget,” you reminded him, “there’s Paul for you here. You won’t be left alone no matter what happens, I promise. Besides, I... promise I’ll return back to you. With Oli or without.”
“I believe in you.” he lifted one of your hands up to his mouth, planting a gentle kiss on the top of it. You blushed at it, dodging his glance with a smile.
“Screw a hand kiss.” you turned back to Richard, grabbing onto his shoulders and reaching for a real kiss. Your lips locked together, and you remembered how you still couldn’t wrap your head around how he maintained his lips so soft all the time. It was so comfortable, exciting, you never wanted to depart no matter how forbidden your love was from the very beginning.
Before it would get too long, before you would accidentally slip to something tighter than just a kiss, you both interrupted it at the same time. Hard to accept, it was time to go. You took a few steps backwards, awkwardly waving a hand at Richard.
“Guess I’ll be going,” you looked into his eyes from the distance before turning around and rather not looking back anymore, “take care of yourself, okay? And wait for me. I’ll be back.”
“Sure, but you be careful out there too, please,” he waved back, standing still in the community room. He also didn’t wish to make the goodbyes any longer, “I’ll be here when you return.”
You walked outside. To your surprise, Till has made it there without a scratch, and you couldn‘t help but wonder about how precise his other senses have to be for him to not even trip over. Now however, he stood by one of the beasts, holding its‘ bridles in one hand. The grip was firm, you could tell he wasn‘t feeling himself in the situation.
There were exactly zero things to wait for, though.
„Get on it, Till.“ you reassured him silently. In no time, he swung himself up on the bear's back and you immediately saw that he must have had an experience with riding mounts. Later, he confirmed to you that in the very beginnings of Rammstein, they had horses instead of armed vehicles, but that apparently changed pretty soon.
You did your part as well, hopping up on the fox's back. It was quite a miracle that both animals let you do this, but since landing your sight on them, you could tell they wouldn't resist. There must have been a reason why they acted so polite and calm towards people who have killed off their original owners. You were on your way to find the reason, and not only that.
Being the one with functioning eyesight from the two of you, you decided to take the lead. There was nothing like giving directions; the beasts walked by themselves. You would only have the ability to slow them down, or speed them up. Other than that, they already knew where to go. Having anyone skeptical see their behavior, chances are they would kneel to the ground without any answer on how is such a silent communication between, seemingly, a human and a beast, possible. Needless to say, you were a little wordless yourself. The last few weeks, however, have brought you too much distress to try and question - you were just letting it happen. So was Till.
„What do you think we are going to find?“ you heard him speak up from behind after a while of silence. He was probably getting a little restless, although overwhelmed with respect towards the inhumane creatures.
„Oliver, hopefully,“ you sighed, automatically imagining where possibly he could be at the moment, and more importantly, how, „it scares me. The fact that nothing is guaranteed.“
„I'm sad to inform you, but nothing ever was.“ Till remarked. You realized he was right, and therefore didn't choose to anyhow go against his point.
After all, your attention was tied to something else. It was the fog gradually suffocating the forest's air, the reduced visibility, the sudden dimness. Everything seemed to be covered in white dust, so dense you felt like you could cut through with a knife. Over the years, you got used to sudden weather changes also being a premonition of some kind of change. It grew colder, and you shivered. Suddenly, each exhale made clouds of white steam escape your mouth.
„To be honest, I have no idea where these animals are leading us,“ you decided to unwind at his original question, „but something is telling me that they're going back what they understand as home. Oli will probably be there if others took him back.“
„See,“ his deep voice perfectly fit the atmosphere and surroundings, both aesthetically and with a vibe, „I thought they weren't from the government. The government would never go hand in hand with beasts, let alone... using them as mounts. They loathe whatever isn't humane.“
The bear rumbled with annoyance once Till spoke, and you couldn't help but crack a smile. Perhaps they could feel what you were talking about?
„They loathe us as well, then.“ you said.
„And it shows,“ Till added, „if you observe carefully or think back about the past, it will hit you that we were all treated worse than others, and always had to deal with some kind of discomfort. One will argue that that's what war is, but that's not entirely true. The people you met in the districts might have not known, but the people who were escorting you away and finding you new districts have known all the time... The authorities.“
Till's words put you into silence, as you actually tried to remember the times where you were met with disadvantages. Of course, there was this huge part of your life that almost put all your belief in humanity to rest, but upon fitting into Rammstein's district, it changed. Before that, you couldn't exactly recall anything. Maybe the memories have just blended in too well with everyone's poverty and everyday's possibility of death that you didn't take anything into account.
Nonetheless, these thoughts carried you back to where you found yourself in life right now, even so that you completely forgot to answer Till. He was probably just giving you all the time to remember, and you were using it for something else. Or, to put it better - someone else.
Love truly was an overwhelming feeling, you found out once all your thoughts revolved around was Richard. You recalled all the things he told you before you left, even the confession about wanting to go with you. It made you feel unsafe all of sudden. You really did want him here with you in the end, but there was no going back and everyone you had was Till. Till, too, would most likely do a lot to keep you safe, but he didn't have the ability to calm you down quite as much as Richard. You thought the entire situation was confusing. Were you ever going to see him again? Is this your death march, only you don't know yet? Are your primal senses going to spike out of nowhere and you'll betray him for Till?
For a moment, you had an idea; that maybe everything would be easier and more painless if you didn't end up together, if your drunk asses didn't decide it was a good idea to throw yourselves into a locked room with one bed... You ridded yourself of those thoughts in the blink of an eye. Where were these thought flows taking you? Wherever; you didn't like it.
You just couldn't be honest with yourself.
It was going to happen, once. One of you were not to return back someday in the future. One of you were to betray the other someday in the future. Someday in the future, you might be holding Till's hand and Richard might be holding Paul's hand. You sabotaged yourself with this outbreak of realizations, but the outbreak was true.
Getting closer with each step of your mounts', you also realized the thought of death terrified you more than just simply breaking up because you're both lured somewhere else. And there, it came - the trembling and shortness of breath, as if it was you who walked all these miles. You were just grateful that Till was blindfolded, and that all you had to do was to keep silent, to yourself.
The thought train drove you to panic's station once more. The animal beneath you sped up as if it knew, but you wished the contradict; to stop. There was no stopping, however, as Till would have found out that you're not feeling exactly well. You didn't want that attention right now. It would make everything worse, you thought as you sentenced yourself to quiet suffering.
In the meantime, Richard opened up a bottle of schnapps liqueur. The bottlecap flew off and hit the ground with a silent tap against the floor. At least he wasn't alone. His faithful friend, Paul, sat beside him, still in the community room. They could have taken this into their almost shared apartments, but there was zero will to change places in both.
Carefully, Richard poured the beverage in two small shot glasses. Before any of them could say bam, they downed the shot, followed by uncomfortable and cramped facial expressions.
„We're not getting drunk though, okay?“ Paul shook his head leaned back in the chair, „We're already pretty close to alcoholism by now.“
„And I don't wanna be shitfaced if she manages to come back tonight.“
„You think about her way too much,“ the shorter man verbally nudged at him, „she is out there with Till. What do you think can possibly happen, Richard?“
„I don't know. I don't know anything,“ a desperate sigh, lips clasping together in the inability to rest, „and it scares me that I have so little knowledge about everything she's facing.“
Paul waited for a while, considering another shot. There was quite no appropriate answer he could come up with at the moment, but the need to comfort Richard wouldn't let him go. He carefully picked words to say, tried to get to the very depths by himself without Richard's cooperation. After all, he wasn't the type to openly discuss emotions. He was better at expressing them, but how could he do that right now?
„And do you even have any knowledge about what YOU are facing?“ Paul's question perhaps sounded more suggestive than he would have wanted. It visibly distracted Richard, as he looked up at his friend. Paul could tell from his eyes that more than understanding, his counterpart reflected confusion. Still, he was unable to explain what exactly he wanted to express with the question.
Richard remained silent, standing up after treating Paul with the most freezing, are you serious? kind of stare. It threw Paul off, enough to stand up as a response and start spitting excuses all around himself with a stuttery speech.
„I'm going to play guitar.“ Richard announced.
„No, no, stay for a while more!“ Paul rushed after him, being convincing enough to make him stop by the threshold, „I'm sorry if it offended you, but... we barely have time to even talk with each other anymore. I just wanna spend some more time with you, is that a sin or something?“
Richard hugged his own arms, not afraid to hide his body language, „Paul, no, it's not a sin. You're just trying to dig into something I can't explain, and it hurts. I don't wanna talk about what I am facing, you get it?“
„Then... I'm, I'm sorry,“ he took a step back, looking up at Richard. The tables have turned and now he was the confused one, „I just feel like you're not certain at some things, Reesh. And it's really obvious, do you know?“
„There you go,“ Richard rolled his eyes, nothing would stop him from descending downstairs into the comfort of his room, „I tell you not to, and you keep pushing on the topic.“
He muttered the last words to himself, but Paul heard them anyways. Little did Richard know that his friend would be shameless and fearless in following him anywhere, and so, he didn't really have the heart to send him off in the end. It was before he jogged down the stairs that he decided to distract Paul for a little more.
„If you're going to follow me, why don't you return for the schnapps?“
You ignored everything on your outsides, but were perfectly aware of every single blood cell acting inside of your body, until you eventually tired yourself out a while back. Depending solely on your mount, you were buried in silence, as if you had to walk on your own you would collapse after only a few steps. This was in no way a good condition for anything you and Till wanted to pull off upon arriving, but thankfully you seemed to be winning over the panic during the last minutes. The aftereffects still held onto you, but the worst part was already gone.
All of sudden, the wolf beneath you stopped. You tried to motivate it to go further, but it wouldn't move an inch, standing its' ground like a stubborn ram. You turned around and noticed Till's bear is behaving the same. The companion of yours, blindfolded, was however maybe more startled than you.
„What's going on?“ the movements of his head revealed his eagerness to look around, but there was nothing besides blur he could see through the bandanna tied over his eyes.
„I wish I knew,“ you spoke, noticing how weak your voice sounded. Upon getting another chance, you put all your effort into changing the tone, „they just stopped walking like that. Mine doesn't want to go on at all from what it seems like.“
You dismounted from the wolf and noticed the fragility in your legs. Thanks God Till wasn't able to see how idiotic you must have appeared before you reassured yourself that no, you weren't going to fall and cause concern.
Scanning the place, you couldn't notice anything being exactly out of place.
„Till, what are we going to do if we're just left here in the middle of nowhere?“
„Can I take off my blindfold?“ he asked first.
„I'd say yes, but don't look at any of the animals if you do.“
Till hopped off of the bear, sticks cracking under the pressure of his boots. He took the blindfold off and immediately closed his eyes, making them wrinkle, almost as if he just tasted something really sour. In fact, his sight was adjusting to the light. Eventually, after blinking for a moment, he let out a sigh, playing with the blindfold in his hands. He would shake and stretch it without even realizing, and that was his thought process showing off through his movements.
„Well, I guess we go forward and maybe we'll find them. The animals could be too scared to go on, maybe they don't want to return,“ he theorized, „I could tell if they're scared or not, but I can't look.“
„Rather don't,“ you walked closer to him, holding your hands in one another behind your back like a soldier at attention, „but what if we don't find anything, Till?“
He shrugged, suddenly stuffing the blindfold into a pocket in his pants, „let's find out. If we fail, I am capable of tracking the way back to the military base. You don't have to worry about safety, I've been in the wild for longer than you could've guessed.“
Without another single word, Till marched forward. You, presented to another new thing about this man, followed him with curiosity. You weren't exactly onto asking him more questions about his past, at least not now. It was just comforting to know that you wouldn't rot in the forest with Till by your side, and so, a certain part of the weight on your back suddenly fell off. Remembering that you still have a weapon to protect yourself, strapped onto your torso, swinging as you walked, the feeling of chance for success grew within you.
As far as you could see, the beasts haven't moved regardless of how much you distanced yourselves for them. It seemed like they were waiting, and you sincerely wished for that to be true. After a while of walking, both of you realized why they would refuse to keep on carrying you towards your destination.
You immediately scooped behind a tree, grabbing Till's hand to drag him to yourself. You two squeezed onto yourself, which made the situation quite awkward, but after settling, it would be incredibly risky to move.
Something similar to a tunnel has appeared in the distance. From what you managed to catch, it was just an entrance peeking from the ground. That meaning, whatever the guards scattered all around you were guarding, was an underground complex with an entrance above ground, something similar to a subway.
„What now?“ whispering, you looked up at Till, who barely maintained balance on the tiny spot that resembled a perfect angle to hide from the guards. Even he seemed quite helpless at the moment, but after he shook the surprise off of himself, he finally came up with something.
„I think they're not like us, they're pure human,“ he started thinking out loud, „it will make everything more difficult. We'll have to sneak in somehow, but the entrance is guarded too well.“
Then, your eyes landed on his weapon.
„What?“ he whispered back. You nodded your head at the possible solution that you were staring at so hopefully, „You're right, but even a silencer won't help. They're more. They'll take us out.“
„But what else can we do?!“ you grew irritated, but still managed to only whisper, „Hey, what's better? Separated or together?“
That was the only thing he had to say. You took a step from behind the tree, unstrapping the weapon from your back and tightly holding it to yourself. You looked left, right; everywhere you could see. The guardsmen appeared to not know about your presence, and so, with the most light and careful steps, crouched, you started walking to the other side from where Till was.
Although your strategy was sloppy because neither of you had any distress plan prepared beforehand, some rules were engraved to the soldier's codex forever. In situations like these, whoever has the louder gun starts shooting, so the person with a more silent, sniping weapon, could take the enemies out before they could do any harm.
In this situation, you were the target that was at more risk. But what else could you do?
You felt insecurities creeping at you from the back of your mind, but the thrill was too high to let them take over you again. Behind every tree that was wide enough, you took a rest, glancing over where Till stood. You would nod at each other, and then you would continue, until you finally found yourself in a reasonable distance.
Your rifle was loaded. The only thing you had to do now was aim, shoot, and let the enemies hear you. Be the possible target while Till tries to shoot them down before they manage to get to you. A wave of adrenaline shocked through your chest - you knew that the longer you're going to wait, the worse the outcome will be. From your position, you saw the tree Till was hiding behind, and counted five visible guardsmen.
You took a deep breath. This was going to be risky.
Ultimately, your last thought before aiming the rifle at one of the guardsmen and firing a shot, was a thought about Richard. A thought about his angelic face, wishing him the best in life and apologizing for million times in a single eye contact.
Then, as you fired the shot; everything went silent and loud at the same time. You immediately crouched as low to the ground as possible, still sticking to the position you had behind one of the wide trees. While the guardsmen were still startled, Till took out the second one. Now there were three standing against you.
One of them caught a glimpse of you, or perhaps heard where the shot was coming from. As you heard Till's sniper rifle spitting few more projectiles out, one hit the tree's edge and swooshed past your face. You would have gasped in fright, but the moment's tension stole your ability to breathe. You couldn't leave all the work to Till, however. You had to fire at least one more shot. You had to take at least one more down.
Your life wasn't the only one hanging on the line.
You slightly peeked from the other side of the tree, roughly aiming for the guard that has been shooting at you. The rifle in your hands kicked you as you attempted to steal his life, but you missed, your tongue forming a firm fuck spoken under your breath. Another bullet hit the tree and other one hit the ground not even a meter away from you, but you were already hidden behind the tree's strain yet again.
How the fuck did you think this was a good plan? How the fuck did you think Till would take care of them so quickly, and that being the sacrifice sheep was going to be a bearable thing? Oh God, you were so scared - you never fought against humans in your life before. They weren't like beasts. They weren't slow. They weren't easy to tackle down. You didn't have to avoid claws and sharp teeth, no, you had to avoid worse, faster. Bullets.
Clenching your teeth, you heard one of the guardsmen shout in pain. Till was the bringer of his death sentence. Sitting back to the tree, you leaned aside again now that the guard's attention was most likely drawn to his fallen fellow. And it was. You aimed at his back, and delivered a shot right in there. He didn't even have the chance to yell for help or lament in pain.
The air was clear. You walked from behind the tree. Pale and shaky. Till looked more collected than you did, and then you've finally met in the middle of the field decorated by corpses of those who were serving orders just like you. It could have been your bodies lying there instead of theirs. The realization of that was terrifying, and for the time being, you valued your life a tad bit more than normally.
Really wishing to seek comfort in Till's eyes, you quickly remembered that it wasn't an option. Whatever would you find in there would not be comfort. He saw you trying, though, and walked one step closer, self consciously invading your personal space. You didn't mind. He wasn't scaring you.
„I know you wanted to look,“ his warm, sweaty palm rested on the top of your tense shoulder, „my eyes can't comfort you, (Y/n). You'll have to hang in there through this, and then we can comfort each other.“
„Till,“ you had no regulation above your words. Your soul spoke by itself, „Till, we killed them, this is a tr-“
„Don't.“ the grasp on your shoulder grew tighter as Till recognized you slipping away from your own sense and mind. That was the last thing both of you needed at the moment. No matter how horrified you were of your own actions, how much guilt you could feel from the lifeless guardsmen lying scattered all around you; you had to act. You had to move. There was no place for overthinking it now. That's what sleepless nights and crying were for.
You touched Till's hand that was still placed on the top of your shoulder and looked around the ground. The terrifying glimpses of what you two have done were making you want to throw up, but you wouldn't. Without realizing it, eyes wide, with a knot in your throat, the hold of Till's hand became stronger.
„Are we gonna take their clothes?“ your voice whispered through the silence, and Till nodded. For Lord, you didn't want to do it.
You didn't want to dress into the crimes you've done. But you had to; for Oli.
Devoted, yet disgusted, you gently put Till's hand away, although you really wanted to hold it for longer. You walked towards one of the deceased; a female. Prayer has been said before the quick process of stealing their uniform and layering it over your own took place. In the end, the only suspicious details on how you and Till looked were the occasional bloodstains, but since their uniforms were all black, these imperfections weren't too visible. You turned to Till with an exhausted face, as you've noticed that he's stolen a security access ID from one of the guardsmen. That became your free ticket to the underground complex.
Not knowing who they were, why they were, and if they were even legally known about by the government, Till shoved the ID card in a terminal next to the entrance. A green light flickered as the lock on old, rusty bars which were earlier denying any access inside, now hearably unlocked.
First, there was a set of really, really long stairs leading down. You and Till descended deeper into the underground, trying your best to appear like nothing out of the ordinary was going on. It wasn't as hard for him; for some reason, he appeared to be very well adjusted to his role. You, on the other hand, still couldn't shake off how nightmarish the situation has been, and that perhaps something worse might go down while you're down here. You'll either walk the stairs back to the surface, or this will be the place where your death bed resides.
Till was very well aware about the state your psyche was in at the moment. Himself clueless about how to help you in the tense situation, you felt him walk as close by your side as possible. If he had a little less of self control, maybe he would have grabbed your hand. But that would have made you way too obvious.
Trying your very, very best to ignore the surroundings and to not maintain any eye contact with anyone who was maybe passing by, a sharp, strict voice made you and Till stop in synchronization. Shivers ran down your spine.
„Halt!“ a female sitting behind a desk that you were just walking by shouted. Till turned to her so you wouldn't have to. She was in no way capable, or willing to speak any other language than German.
Still perfectly in control of his character, Till walked to the desk, with you by his side. You watched him exchange a few words with the woman, who probably worked in the place as some kind of receptionist at the place. While they were sorting things out, you had the time to take a more careful look at your surroundings.
The complex's walls were made out of pure steel. So was the floor, and the ceiling. It really reminded you of the subway, except that this place was more... dead. The poor lightning made the areas dim and of dark, brown-yellow-orange shade, like some brutalist industrial factory. Pipes running along the walls, unprotected, leading into hallways and God knew where. As for the air, you smelled humidity. The entire space looked, felt, and even smelled stale, perhaps more than a hundred years old abandoned basement.
Not to lie, you would have expected something much more modern than this. Before you realized it, Till was already on his way back to you, nudging into your arm so you would follow his lead. Ending up walking through a long, round corridor with flickering lights and the sound of electricity buzzing at each step, you couldn't hold your silence anymore.
„What did she want?“ you whispered, immediately looking over your shoulder to reassure yourself that nobody was stalking the two of you in suspicions.
„Identifications. It went by smooth. I said the name on the ID I stole and she asked me if I'm with my girlfriend, so I said yes, it's her,“ he went on telling you how the entire conversation went, and you couldn't help but smile at the luck, and also the lightness Till was presenting it to you with, „and so she asked me why aren't you talking, that you're often very loud. So I said you're bummed out because of lady monthly stuff.“
„Till!“ you blushed, although the story he told her was completely made up, „You didn't tell her that, did you?“
„Don't worry about it,“ he waved his hand to signalize carelessness, „she was okay in the end, she even laughed. Trust me. A very laid back lady that was.“
„You're lucky,“ you let out a sigh of relief, to which Till only laughed, „so where are we going now?“
„I asked the lady for directions to where they keep people hostage,“ Till leaned aside to you, lowering himself so he could speak even quieter, „from what she said, they call them mutant slaves. So I assume all of them are people who are not entirely human. They keep them on the lowest level of this complex, so now we're going to take the elevator.“
„Okay.“ you nodded along to the plan.
Upon making your way to the elevator, you found out you'd have to share it with few other people who worked for whatever this hellhole was. On the way downwards, all of them got off sooner than you, which only became a benefit for the two of you. Once the elevator reached the very depths and its' doors slid open, you and Till took the fastest step outside. Oli had to be in here somewhere. You were certain, and you could almost say you felt it in your bones.
In front of you sprawled a huge space full of random turns, room entrances and a long hallway that led to the very back. Considering that there was nothing else for you down here than finding the cells, with swift pace you made it down the dark corridor. Unlike the first level, this place had a dark blue tint to it, with the only light source being sharp ceiling lights, which however weren't capable of covering huge amounts of space.
And finally, you found it. You found something you had to find, but something you would never wish to land your eyes upon otherwise.
Cells. Literal prison cells. You heard their chatters, sobbing and words like „the guardsmen, oh no, the guardsmen, do you hear? Spread it. The guardsmen!“ one of the prisoners shouted, and you immediately turned to him with a finger crossing your mouth. Although, to be fair, not a single part of you could blame him. His voice was the most chilling evidence of fear and terror you could have heard.
Before any of the prisoners could get any louder, you quickly walked towards the man who was trying to warn others so desperately.
„We're not guardsmen,“ you whispered, grabbing onto the bars „we came here for a friend. We won't hurt you.“
„A friend?“ the man repeated, and you finally got a good glance at him - his clothes were worn out and had holes in them. His beard probably wasn't cut in about some weeks, and there was no point in taking into account how skinny he appeared. The people running this place must have treated them horribly. Besides, from his accent, you could tell he also was a foreigner, „you better wish he isn't already dead.“
„Dead?“ Till suddenly emerged from behind of you, to which the man appeared to jump at fright.
„Can you guide us? Our friend got in here just today, already during the daylight.“ you tried to bargain with the man. To your surprise, he seemed more than willing to give you the information you needed. You had a strange feeling though, that he might want something in return from you two.
„Was he bald, with a beard?“ the prisoner asked, and you immediately nodded. In response, he pointed sideways, „Then he's at the very end of this hallway.“
„Thank you so much!“ without any hesitating, you started off to the very back, carefully glancing into the insides of every cell. You've been met with eyesights of those who suffered in there, probably much longer than the man you've just spoken to. Then you finally spotted the familiar, tall figure, lying on a wooden bench inside of one of the cells.
You and Till grinned at each other. Joy sprinkled in your eyes, and you were sure that Till's weren't left untreated by the relief. You didn't even have to ask him to pull out his stolen ID once more and use it to unlock the cell. The sound of that happening woke Oli up, as he began sitting up without yet knowing who was about to meet him.
Rushing inside of the cell and squatting in front of the tired Oli, you smiled brightly right into his face. He seemed to recognize you, but no spark of surprise, not even a hint, could have been picked up from how he appeared.
„Oli, bro!“ you grabbed his wrists, „Are you okay? I'm sorry, we... couldn't have come earlier.“
„No,“ he shook his head, and finally the corners of his mouth raised slightly. He looked at you with patience and then up at Till, greeting him with a slow salute, „don't be sorry. I'm just happy that you at least did come, in the end.“
„We wouldn't leave you here like that,“ you stood up, offering him a hand to bring himself up to his feet as well - to which he did not resist and you could finally remind yourself how much taller he was, „who are they, Oli? What is this place?“
Upon asking the questions, you noticed horrible bruises on both of his arms, as if someone has been dragging him down these dirty hallways. You realized the answer was going to be thrilling, even before he had the chance to speak up.
„(Y/n), Till, it doesn't matter anymore,“ strong headed, he began making his way out of the cell, „let's just get out of here.“
You had no intentions to dwell the answer out of him. Perhaps he would speak later, but this had to be way too much pressure on him. You had an uncanny feeling that this place was very sinister, probably way more than it seemed when you first set a foot over the entrance's threshold. Following Oli out of the cell and having Till close it behind yourselves, you stopped again. A weak, raspy voice coming from the cell opposite to Oli's seemed to be speaking to the two of you who came to rescue your friend.
Without protesting, your hearing went full alert and you listened to what the old lady had to say.
„Don't be too surprised he doesn't want to talk about it,“ she began, leaning onto the cell's bars as if they were her life support. You noticed her eyes must have been long gone; she was blind, eyesockets empty, eyelids grown into one another, „this place is a mortal danger to all of you, and us, too. Me and the others are so lucky we are still even alive, because these... monsters... these true monsters, who disguise themselves as the purest of humanity,“ her hold on the bars tightened, you could tell she was overwhelmed by emotions just by speaking about the topic, „they want to enslave us. They want to enslave anything that has to do with the corrupted. If you think experiments are illegal by now, you're oh, so, so wrong. You should go while you still can...“
„Who?“ you exhaled in nothing but shock, „Who are they?“
„Not the government this time,“ she shook her head in disbelief of her own words, „they're the old Italian scientists. They'll kill all of us, eventually. But you, go, so you don't have to meet the same fate. Not even the majors will help you once you find yourself down here.“
A moment of silence radiated through the underground. Your sight locked at the floor, your brain was on a ride through too many thoughts at the moment, and way too many ideas. The shock, fright, sadness and rage; bottling up in you once again. A calling flooded all your senses, a calling that told you exactly what to do and somehow helped you stop fearing death.
„Till?“ you looked up at your companion.
„Free them all.“
You were a little surprised that there were no words of resistance coming from him. Most likely, he felt the same way you did. Once the old lady has heard you say the command, she made your job a tad bit easier with her piece of information.
„They keep the guns and armor one level above this ground,“ she stretched as close to the bars as possible, just to be freed soon after, „and the enslaved, pure beasts on the other side of that level. One side serves for the weapons, other for the mounts.“
You nodded, knowing that Till would soon be to bring justice to the old lady, and many, many more poor people of your kind which suffered in this dirty, stinky pit. Walking down the corridor with enraged, freed prisoners rushing to the elevator, you felt the fire that once burnt within you, bur all around your body. Your limbs, torso, throat, head, it was all covered in the most purifying, primal fire that has ever been felt burning throughout the history. You could have died for this at any moment, anyone could. But it fueled you like benzine fuels a military vehicle.
„You heard it, fellows!“ you shouted at the people, stretching your hands to the sides in a welcoming manner. You knew this feeling, only in a much smaller dose than at that moment. Recalling the saying the dose makes the poison, you were failing to recognize yourself. Nevertheless, it came to your liking, „everything you need is right above our heads! Go get it and serve yourself justice by freedom!“
A stunning feeling froze your entire body, as a pair of familiar arms used the opportunity and wrapped themselves around you, just below your raised arms. You stood still, staring into nothingness, with mouth slightly opened from yet another surprise. Feeling Till's body softly on your back as he embraced you and rested his chin at the top of your head, you... had really no idea what to do. Except for enjoying the butterflies in your stomach. You could swear they had little flames for wings. The shouting voices of the people you have freed fell into dull silence, so your ears could be blessed by only one, single voice.
„I don't think they understand you, but they know,“ Till spoke in the softest voice he could have pulled off at the moment, not letting you go. You haven't even noticed Oli watching the two of you in confusion, „and I am proud of you for making that decision.“
Intuitively, you tilted your head backwards to push his chin away. Now you were looking at him from below, and he looked at you from his height. It was quite silly, but with the brightest eyes, you told him:
Viva la revolución.
Hello my lovely readers!
I am sorry to let you know, but I am taking a two-three week break after this chapter's release. For further information, please see this: https://waidmannsheilrammfic.tumblr.com/post/187856934646/a-break-announcement
Thank you so much for your support and patience, I value it above all!