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Strange dream last night - Not a rock, I'm just Ruth
All Me, no apologies
Strange dream last night
Not sure where this came from, post apocalypic world --

What's In A Name?
By Ruth

It was his own fault, Morgan thought with small satisfaction as the Lieutenant skipped backwards, yelling with disgust and dismay. He'd punched her in the stomach and she'd vomited on his white trousers and polished boots.

"Damned creole bitch!" he began in a fury. She flinched and tried to go limp as he struck her across the face. Her head snapped to one side, but pain radiated from her nose. She could feel it start bleeding. Her arms were aching from being cuffed around the back of the chair. Her stomach hurt. She knew she was going to hurt even more before this was over.

"Lieutenant," an icy voice stopped the man in mid swing. She looked up to see the interior lights reflecting off the Commander's pale hair. "That is enough. You may go."

"But sir!"

"You may /go/, Lieutenant." He looked down at her. She sniffed the blood back in her nose and coughed. Her mouth tasted foul, but she wasn't about to spit - not until she could get this bastard in his eye. It might piss him off enough that he'd kill her before she betrayed anyone.

"You give your name as Morgan," he referred to his clipboard. "Is that a first name or a last name?"

"It is my name," she answered. Did he know anything about her people, he would know he had no right to even ask her that much.

"You travel with the Scavenger band called the Macaw?" he continued.

"Macha," she corrected. He looked at her blankly, clearly ignorant of the difference between a parrot and the Battle Crow Queen.

"Your people found a man in the ruins of Stagthurr Base nine months ago. You were seen carrying him away." He set the clip board aside and removed his gloves.

"He died." So, that was what they wanted, her battered, bloody foundling. She would not give them a dog, much less him.

"I don't believe you," he said quietly. "It will do you no good to hide him. He is ours."

"No human being belongs to another," she shot back.

"He's not human," said the Commander. "He's far less human than you, creole."

"How?" she couldn't help but ask.

"He's a construct," he explained, calmly wetting a handkerchief and wiping at her bleeding nose. He deftly pinched the bridge and tipped her head back just far enough to hurt. She ground her teeth together. "Genetically engineered from the zygote up. Subliminally programed - he was the ultimate soldier. The enemy's greatest weapon and Griffith Industries finest creation." Morgan thought of the tattoo on her foundling's left arm; the tattoo she had given him his name from, a griffin, a company trade mark. She wanted to retch.

The Commander walked behind her, keeping a grip on her hair so that she couldn't lean forward to ease her aching neck. "He's the only one left. We need him to reconstruct what the scientists did."

"Can't you ask . . . the scientists?" she gasped. The back of the chair bit into her arms. Her hands were growing numb from the shackles. He pulled her hair harder until she was looking at him upside down.

"Those who captured the plant were . . . careless," he said mildly. "We will take him. The question is only when. Now, I have been very reasonable. I'd rather not get unpleasant. Where is he?"

"Go. . .to. . . hell," she panted. He sighed and shook his head as if he regretted her stubbornness. She tried to brace herself for the blow that would surely come.

There was a clunk, a sputtering hiss and the room filled with acrid, reeking smoke. He let go of her hair and she leaned forward, gasping and choking. There were shouts all around her. The Commander's voice sounded from the direction of the door, trying to find out what was going on. There were more shouts and a staccato of gunshots.

Morgan's eyes watered. Two figures swam through the haze, the one cried her name in a familiar voice.

"Azami!" she cried. "What are you doing here?" She recognized the second. "Del!"

"We're trying to get you out of here," snapped Azami, the younger creole woman. Her brother, who could have passed for a purebred elf except for his eyes, cursed as he fumbled with the handcuffs. In the end, they pulled the back off the chair and dragged her through the smoky corridor.

"Who. . .?" Morgan stumbled. "It's Grif, isn't it?"

"Yeah," said Del. "He went on automatic pilot. Led us straight in, came up with the smoke bombs, raided their armory. . ."

"And you didn't stop him?" Morgan cried.

"How?" asked Del. They rounded a corridor and Morgan saw him. He was covered in soot and blood, his eyes were cold steel as he whirled, massive gun in hand, to confront them.

"Escape route is clear," he announced in a dull monotone that chilled Morgan to the bone. "That way. I'll cover your backs."

They ran, stumbling out a broken door into the cool night air. A swift bolt across the compound and through the ripped wire fence brought them to the wagon. The spotted mule munched grass with a bored expression as Azami and Del boosted Morgan into the wagon bed. Del ran to the driver's seat to startle the mule into a trot. Grif dove in. He frowned at them a moment, then pulled out a knife. He turned Morgan around. She wasn't sure exactly what he did, but the cuffs snapped free and she groaned as the blood started back into her hands.

"Objective achieved?" he barked.

"Yes!" cried Azami. "Objective achieved."

"Grif!" Morgan cried. The steel melted from his eyes, leaving them wide, blue and frightened.

"M-Mama?" he asked in a child's voice. He looked at his hands. "Mama? Did. . .?" he swallowed. "Did I do something bad?"

"No," Morgan reached for him, hugging him close, even though he was so much taller than her. "No, Grif, no. What's the last thing you remember?"

"Bad men," said the child voice. "Bad men took you away." He whimpered, his eyes starting to tear. "I did something bad, didn't I? I hurt people, didn't I?" He dropped and buried his head in her lap. "I don't want to hurt people."

/"He's not human." the Commander said./

"Shh," said Morgan, stroking the soft, light brown hair, tracing the scar that left a permanent part on the right side of his head. "It's all right. Shh."

"What did they want?" asked Azami.

Morgan closed her eyes. "They wanted Grif."

"Me?" Grif looked up at her. She took a rag and wiped his eyes. "Why?"

Morgan hesitated, then looked into his eyes and lied. "They know you were at the base. They think you know something they want to know."

"But I don't remember anything," Grif wailed.

"That's what I told them, dear," she stroked his face. "They didn't believe me."

"We have to get out of this area then," Azami went up front to talk to Del.

Grif whimpered and pressed his head against her shoulder. Morgan tightened her arms around him.

"It's all right, son," she said. "It's all right. You're a good boy. You're a good boy, Grif."

Not human, Commander? She thought angrily. My poor Grif is more human than you are.


Totally unbeta'd feel free to rip apart.

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2 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: September 17th, 2003 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

What's In a Name?

yes, this one's all mine. It was one of those "dark man dreams" I wasn't sure if Grif was the dark man or if he was being pursued by the dark man. I think the story answered that.

Of course, it's also possible I've been heavily influenced by '70's science ficton where the hero was always being chased by someone . . . :)
(Deleted comment)
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: September 20th, 2003 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: What's In a Name?

I think I may play with it, only because it seems to ask an important question: what makes a human being human?
2 comments or Leave a comment