Some fine print, in normal sized, italic letters.
Some fine print, in normal sized, italic letters.
The characters, locations, and events in this story are fictional creations of Reserved Rodent. Certainly, names of locations and entities from the real world are referenced in this chapter. This is not to lay claim to those things, but rather to grant realism to the background and should in no way be considered accurate representations of these places, events, things, or people in real life. Any other resemblances found within this work to other works are accidental as well as coincidental, and should not be considered monumental. In whole and part, original characters in this work belong to Reserved Rodent. This work was written with the intention of posting it and surrounding chapters on SoFurry.com. If you must take it and post it elsewhere, at least leave it fully intact, including these warnings to give credit (or blame) where it is due.
Nothing naughty happens in this chapter, though there is a suggestive reference to some M/M naughtiness that -- if you have read all of the chapters up to this one -- will not be something you haven't gotten a more detailed description of already. If this chapter is your first read, I would suggest going back and starting at the beginning. ;)
Special thanks to my good friend Tengu the lynx for giving this a quick look over for mistakes. Any that remain are where I was too foolish to listen to his good advice.
For Every Door that Closes
by Reserved Rodent
The attack, though I'm not sure that's the best term to use for what occurred, hit me as I was settling down into the conditioning pool Hyipgr had suggested would be best for me.
He was talking about the properties of the pool and how it would protect my fur and skin from the sun, when I suddenly felt like something was crushing my skull. I let out a screeching squeak that fast turned to a gurgle as I slipped completely under the surface of the water.
My vision went black almost immediately, followed quickly by a numbness spreading through me.
Voices sounded in the distance. I did not recognize them, but was reminded of how the women who healed me sounded as my awareness was outside my body.
"I have another, commander," The masculine voice held a nasal squeak.
"Alive this time, or another corpse?" This voice was much deeper, holding a tone that demanded respect.
"Still alive," Squeaky answered. "In fact, very healthy. Immunities seem to have been adjusted already. Got a native language translation effect running as well."
As this was said, I realized they were speaking in English, rather than their words being translated. I tried to focus in on them.
"Damn it!" the commander snarled, "Has target's original form been altered?"
Silence stretched out for several long seconds, and I worried I had lost them.
I tried to reach out and find them again. They were speaking English. They might be able to help me figure out what happened to me - how I got to this different world. I couldn't lose this chance so quickly after finding it.
"Well, can you tell or not?" Grumpy voice was still around. Beggars can't be choosers.
"Sorry, sir. There's quite a bit of interference." So, I was not losing them. Squeaky was having trouble finding me. "I'm trying to clear up the scan."
I started feeling tingling in my fingers and toes - which I hoped was better than the lack of sensation I had been experiencing. I also started to notice spots - in the complete darkness I seemed to be floating in. I briefly wondered if they were stars, before they grew too great in number and looked more like television static.
"I thought we had killed all of the wretches in that direction that could break up our scans," the commander snarled accusingly.
"Just the sabers, sir. There may have been some that were part of those driven past the plains and survived the swamps. We have only spotty information about any tribes and species farther in that direction, including the area where the anomaly appeared on this side of the planet."
A threatening, "Private," was growled, bringing Squeaky's interesting chatter to a halt.
I was really starting to feel sorry for the underling. His commanding officer sounded like a bit of an asshole. I wondered why I couldn't see anything like the last time I had been seemingly out of my body.
Upon remembering the visions I had seen while being brought into the hyena's village after having been hurt by the porsect, a window - for lack of a better term - opened up in the static that had been filling my vision.
Through it I saw part of what appeared to be a metal room with several large walls of gears and lights. Sitting in a very rickety-looking seat of wood and fabric was someone in a drab gray uniform. With his back to me, only partially visible around the figure standing behind him, I could see white fur and one large, round ear.
I tried to focus on the other figure, since he was closest in my line of sight, but though I could tell he was watching both the screen and the white-furred one, I found it hard to direct my gaze at him for more than a second. I could tell he too was in a uniform, but my eyes, attention, and memory of any other details seemed to bleed away.
Trying to figure out if I saw orange and black-striped fur, or green with blue spots on scales, started to give me a headache, so I focused back on the sitting figure - who was now leaning over and rubbing at some dust on a row of lights to clear the title off one that was blinking.
"What is that, Private?" The growl came, I assumed, from the difficult-to-look-at standing figure.
My attention went to the very pink eyes of the white-furred rat as he squinted through wire framed glasses at the faded text.
The glasses flew off the rat's head as the one behind him smacked the back of his head with an open hand, that briefly looked like it might have been a brown bear paw. "Stop holding back. Adjust your fucking eyes, Private. The native radiation has already twisted you. Maintaining the lab rat form doesn't make you more human."
"Sorry, sir," the white-furred male grunted. His gritted teeth lost the large, rodent-like incisors and all grew briefly sharp, as his pink eyes grew yellow and feline before losing the slit pupil and, while the iris remained yellow, looked bright and more human-like.
"Uh-oh," the Private muttered as his features slid back to how I first saw him.
"What?" Commander Growly snarled.
"The light indicates there is a strong source of negatively-charged dark radiation in the area I'm trying to scan, sir. Somehow, instead of another individual from the event, I must have locked on to one of your Raven operatives."
The fact that I couldn't feel much more than a general numbness didn't stop me from feeling like the fur on the back of my neck - heck, the fur all over my back - was suddenly puffed up in alarm as the hard-to-describe senior officer shouted, "Get me a visual there, NOW! Neither of my Ravens should be anywhere near what you are supposed to be investigating. I need facts, not fiction, Private!"
The smell of fear rolled from the white-furred subordinate - shocking me that I could practically taste it from wherever I was. I could also feel the energy that I was beginning to associate with magic building in the machines as the young rat flicked switches and turned dials.
Small electrical sparks started to crackle throughout the room.
A muttered, "Crap, not sure if I can build enough charge to get through..." came to my ears, and I tried to reach out to comfort the troubled Private Squeaky, much as I had within the hut back at the village.
The result was completely different.
When I was young there was an electric wire along the top of the fences where the horses were kept near the barn, but not out to pasture. It was not on most of the time, for the animals are smart enough to remember what happened last time they tried to lean over the fence to get the grass on the other side.
In any case, as a youngster I proved to be as smart as a horse too. It only took me one time grabbing the wire when I didn't realize it was live to decide to never touch it again, even when I knew it was off.
It's hard to describe the feeling of a light electric current shooting through one's body. It doesn't exactly hurt, because while pain receptors do go off, a lot of nerves fire as the current passes through your flesh. Muscles - like ones on fingers around a wire - clench up. It's just odd, and takes a little while to overcome the effects of the current.
All of which I mention because, well - it felt like a huge jolt of electric current poured through me as I reached out for the Private.
I could hear the snapping and crackle of electricity through the machines. A loud squeak of pain filled my ears - I had no idea if it was my own.
I could hear Hyipgr begging me to wake up between howls for help.
Fortunately, I didn't have to consciously "let go" of whatever connection I made with the shock. It was a powerful jolt, but not a continuous current. Still, with the mix of voices I had just heard I wasn't sure where I was going to be when I opened my eyes.
"What species is that?" came the growl, as I saw the commander. He was pointing something I couldn't see because the jerk made a better wall than a window, the thought of which made me realize I was no longer viewing the room through a break in a field of static - my perspective had switched to within the room.
A quick look around revealed one closed door behind me, and more machines which hummed loudly. Thankfully none of them were sparking currently, but they also failed to give me a better idea of who these beings were, or what was happening.
So, I tried to move so I could see what they were both looking at as Squeaky said, "I think he is based off of a hyena, sir, though I'd want to have archive confirm to be sure."
There appeared to be an old television screen without a case to hold in all the vacuum tubes and wires. It somehow hung in the air above a table, which was set against the far wall of machinery - displaying a crisp image of Hyipgr and myself. My newest friend was kneeling beside my prone, unconscious - I hoped, rather than dead - form. Our fur was soaked and though there was no sound, I could see the golden-furred hyena saying things to me between howling for help.
"Is our target still alive?" Grouchy demanded. "Can you get a clean reading on how much he has been compromised by this dimension and that... thing?"
"Still alive, though he seems to have had a reaction to the frequency we're using to lock in on him. As for his -"
"Are we destabilizing his form?" the commander snarled, interrupting the answers to his previous questions.
"No, sir. Headache and loss of consciousness due to pain is all. His form is actually very solid and locked in right now. There seems to be a little foreign influence, likely from a near relative of the male with him there, and it appears he is... um, digesting a ... sample from the male with him, but there is no sign of instability at this time."
"And is there enough of the original to use to get home? If he is from our home?" The questions were asked as softly as I'd heard the commander speak, sounding almost wistful.
The Private was slow to answer, and seemed a little subdued when he answered, "At this time, yes, we can use him to lock on to where he came from. There is a ninety seven percent chance it is the same place as our unit came from. There is no chance he is from the other three faction's homeworlds."
The chuckle coming from the commander would have done any movie villain proud. "Wonderful news. Find out what you can about that jackal race from archive. They are our next target for conquest, and a ticket home will be our prize. It goes without saying, this man's importance to our unit is not discussed again. We do not yet know if he is an enemy in the war or an ally. Not that it matters either way, he will fuel a gateway home."
As the commander, seeming to morph constantly through a dozen or more predatory species, one limb or patch of flesh at a time, turned and strode from the room, slamming the door on his way out, I couldn't help but think, Sheesh, monologue much? Though, truth be told, more information would certainly have been useful. I probably shouldn't complain.
"More often every year," Private squeaky said behind me.
I turned back from the door the commander had just left through to face the white-furred rat, who was looking directly at me with what looked like a pistol from World War One or Two pointed in my direction.
"Yes, I can see you," he said, gesturing at me with the firearm. "Who are you, and more importantly who do you serve?"
What the? I thought, moving to the side, surprised as the gaze and barrel followed me.
"Answer my questions or I will curse your name as I fill out the damn paperwork required for shooting someone within the base."
Okay, okay. Easy there Squeaky. My name is Randy, but I'm not sure what you're asking when you ask who I serve, I tried to say, though it felt like I was just thinking the words. I knew I couldn't hear my voice.
"Who are you working for, Randy?"
Kansas City Zoo, assuming it still exists back home and I can ever get back there. Grumpy seemed to think I would be able to "fuel" a gateway home. I wasn't sure what that meant, but evidently these folks did. Do you know what happened?
"Kansas City? That is a village in United States of America, right?" The white-furred guy seemed a little unsure, which bothered me. I thought these guys were from my Earth and American.
It is a city there, yes. Where -
"HA! You lie, Japanese dog!" the Private chittered, "Kansas is a state, not a city! We learned this from our parents, who are true Americans. You will not trick me."
Kansas is a state, true, but Kansas City is a real town that sits on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the Missouri River. I was born, raised, and was still working in America before ending up here. How he talked about learning things struck me as odd. Were you born in this world?
The gun's aim on me wavered slightly.
"Yes. I only know of America from stories. The elite still want to return, to finish fighting the war with the Japanese. Many of my generation think it would be foolish to give up what we have built here."
As the Private holstered his gun, I saw the name "Cooper" stitched on to the shoulder of his shirt.
How long have your parents been here, Cooper? I asked, as he turned to face the machinery again.
"My parents? They were born here. Forty, maybe fifty monsoons ago. Not really important to keep track."
The white rat flipped several switches, and the humming of the machines started dying down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the image of myself and Hyipgr beginning to fade.
If they were born here, how do they know about America? Why do they want to go to my world?
I started to feel a little lightheaded, like I needed to sit down and rest. Considering the fact I couldn't see or feel any part of my body in this room, I was not sure how I could manage to sit down.
"I'm not sure if my parents want to go to the Elite's home, though the Elites are my parents' parents." His voice turned dark. "No more questions. You need to go away. I have to get the reports ready for the army to come get you. There will be plenty of time for you to answer the Elite's questions when they save you from the impure."
The room seemed to be dimming now, but I didn't like what I was hearing. They're not hurting me. There's no need to send an army to get me. I -
"The Elites say all the other races are impure, inferior, and unclean. The others are what cause the..." Cooper shuddered, and I saw his fur darken to orange with black stripes, then fade to a reddish brown before returning to white. "Instability. If not for the other races we could be pure here. We could be human again. Not animals."
Flipping a few last switches, the white rat turned back to me, giving me a sad look, "If you care for any of the others, tell them to run, to hide." Cooper shook his head and let out a sigh, "Nothing will stop the Elites from getting you and destroying all that might corrupt you."
With a soft pop, the image on the old screen disappeared.
Everything faded to black.
Hola Reserved Rodent --
Interesting twist, both in terms of the return to the question of what's going on, and the twist on the long-out-of-touch Japanese army officer trope.
Although I suspect it will be some time until I find out what comes next ...