Chapter 13: Canis Canem Edit
The search for the Fenrir was brief. A mostly intact cabin a few feet from where he parked had a large smashed open hole, that was most likely from the impact of a giant creature crashing through it. Iggy stepped in carefully, hoping that the ‘Fenrir’ creature was as hardy as she looked. But inside the rotting wood structure, there was no large wolf creature to be found. Only the much smaller, human sized woman he found in the Big Waste.
It was Sil.
She lay still and mostly silent apart from short haggard breaths which told a very serious tale of discomfort and illness. Her ashen grey skin had faint but noticeable blotches of dark blue, and she was covered head to toe in dried blood. Her now tattered poncho was mostly dark red from soaking in blood. Iggy ran to her in panicked horror, scooping her up in his arms before dashing back to the blockgain. He shuddered when he felt how soft her body was and how relatively light she was to carry, a very jarring experience to the superhuman killing machine he watched in action just the other day. He was scared, but still touched with the relief of being reunited with her.
“You better have the best explanation in the fucking world Crasher. Why am I in a car that isn’t moving? Why hasn’t this car been moving for the last 20 minutes? What the hell happened to Nails and Malkin?” Clarissa shouted from inside the car.
Clarissa’s voice was scratchy from the near non-stop yelling before and after the collision. But Iggy had his priorities, he wasn’t thinking about Clarissa’s mission right now.
“I had to save someone. No explanation will satisfy you so I won’t even bother,” Iggy said with new tone of seriousness. “But this person is seriously hurt and until I can do something about that your mission is on hold, got that?”
Clarissa’s fire and fury blasted out from the inside of the backseat as Iggy opened the front door to lay the battered Sil inside; longways across both seats.
“You stupid citi-simp, softneck-shitstain! What the fuck am I paying you for? I don’t give a shit about some dying bitch. Twenty randomers died in my towers last week! You have a fucking job to do. You drove for 20 mins before deciding to play rough and tumble with your drinking buddies, and where are they?!”
“They are probably fuckin’ dead, I warned them and they didn’t listen. I feel bad, but not as bad as you are going to feel if I open that back door while the sun is still out!” Iggy snapped with a sinister tone in his voice.
Clarissa paused for a moment, taking in the seriousness of Iggy’s tone, before responding in a much more flat emotionless timbre.
“Blue Gecko poison right..? That’s what Malkin hunts with, there isn’t any real cure for it. If you’re strong enough to withstand the fever and paralysis, some have been know to make a full recovery with high-end round the clock type treatment... but it’s not a sure thing.”
Iggy gulped with panicked despair, and ran his hand over the cheek Sil’s pained face as her quick breaths became like whimpers.
“She isn’t strong enough to beat the fever, she got shot twice and she’s badly injured, I think she’s lost quite a bit of blood too. We got to turn around back to Folsom, maybe-”
“You fucking moron, I was giving you the diagnosis for one Gecko bite, two crossbow bolt shots can be as powerful as four bites. If she’s in the state you say she is, she won't last half an hour regardless of where you take her, Folsom doesn’t have shit in the way of medical facilities anyway. Whoever she is, you need to put her out of her misery, this is one of the most painful deaths anyone can experience.” Clarissa stated with grim empathy.
Cold anguish gripped Iggy’s chest like a snare. He looked at Sil’s agonized expression and coughed into a teary splutter as he dropped his head on her lap.
She’s...in so much pain…and it’s my fault. I should have been faster!
Iggy’s mind tried to push it out, but his eyes hovered over to the glove compartment, where his fully loaded elephant revolver was. In her current state Iggy resolved that despite her superhuman durability a shot to the head with the revolver would be a quick and painless end. Shaking his head hard, hoping to rattle the thought free from his mind he looked at Sil through blurred eyes filled with tears.
“Sil…tell me what to do…” Iggy spluttered.
Clarissa spoke softly over the voicebox, acknowledging the depressing situation.
“Don’t be selfish, no one deserves to die like this, finish it.”
Iggy’s shaking hand began to reach for the glove box as he turned his head and forced his eyes closed. His body felt like it was being torn in two ways. Despite the constant near death situations of his life in the derby and more recently the trials of the waste, he had never felt as helpless as he did now.
Then he heard the faintest whisper, a croak of speech.
“N-Nish...in…took me home,” Sil uttered with a mere fragment of the powerful bark he was used to hearing from her.
“Yes Sil, you’re home,” Iggy said with a crushed resolve.
His hand was finally in the glove box and reluctantly feeling for the gun. His heart lifted ever so slightly with the bittersweet knowledge the last place she would see is the car she feels at home in.
“She saved my life...Clarissa…” Iggy sobbed into the voice box as he took shaky aim with his weapon.
Killing that reptile right before it would have eaten me, hitching a ride and forcing me to drive around with my leg injury, then saving it with that clear-wet…
Iggy’s veins pumped fire, fire that set his nerves alight, fire that burned through his head and set all cylinders of his brain on overdrive. Fire which burned away his tears, fire which hit the ignition key in his guts. Just like his beloved Blockgain, his engine roared to life.
Everything became clear, he slammed the pistol back into the glovebox and shut it, never wanting to see it, let alone hold it again. He carefully lifted Sil into the passenger seat so she was sitting up, but reclined it enough to give her what little comfort he could. He scrambled into the driver’s seat and turned the engine on as Clarissa spoke through the voice box with bewilderment in her speech.
“Crasher? What are you-”
“Cactus! Clarissa, where can I find a cactus, where do they grow?!”
Clarissa went silent as she pondered the implications of her driver losing his very sanity. She was jolted when he yelled again with the most intensity she had heard from him.
“TELL ME NOW!”
“Ah-fuck what kind? Plenty of regular ones around the Sivander Creek west of-”
The instant she gave indication of a direction, the Blockgain peeled out into a rocket start, knocking Clarissa around the backseat unprepared for the inertia. Iggy was gritting his teeth and squeezing his steering wheel as if he was hanging on to life itself. The Blockgain Chaser seared off west at top speed, tearing through everything solid that it could run over or smash through.
Iggy’s eyes were darting between the scenery in front of him; his speedometer that was pushing 200mph and Sil, fighting a losing battle against the poison silently. Despite the world around him whipping by in a screaming rush, his eyes saw everything; every boulder, sign post, wreckage, rodent, and corpse as he flew by. He wasn’t going to miss anything. His ears suffered Sil’s whispery breaths turning into yowls of agony. Her dark skin blotches becoming more pronounced and ugly, her blue veins becoming visible under her grey skin.
“Keep fighting Sil, stay alive!!” Iggy yelled through clenched teeth as he tore into a new part of the landscape that seemed to have more grass and plant life than the barren ground before it.
He managed to catch the sight of a few people in long duster coats and mining masks wondering around, presumably looking for scrap, most of them turned when they saw a dark, class A muscle car barreling past them at 210 mph, but Iggy wasn’t going to waste time asking for directions, he knew he was close, the lakes, the trees, they were familiar enough to him from where they found the first cactus near the pool.
And with the immediate sight of a green looking lake, Iggy’s vision registered a plant that looked enough like it. Short, wide, bright green and not too prickly.
It has to be, has to be it….
Swinging his car into an emergency brake which skewed the entire car sideways and almost backwards as the wheels shrieked to a halt, Iggy grabbed his barbed wire bat and jumped out of the car and ran towards the plant that he was wishing as hard as he could that it wasn’t a mirage.
Almost tripping up on his own feet he dashed and landed in front of the cactus, a thick green beacon of hope that he prodded with his bat. He was convinced instantly.
This is it! I did it!
His planned move back to the car was cut off by the lock and tumble of what could only be a firearm. Looking up, he peered down the barrel of a rifle, which was in the hands of a scavenger girl, no more than 18 years old. Behind her was a boy of a similar age wielding holding a shovel.
The girl’s face was covered by wasteland goggles, and her sandy blonde hair fell over her right shoulder in a braided pony-tail, her mouth a non-nonsense frown. The young man behind her had a face of shock and fear, dark brown bangs covered his bright blue eyes and his jaw was a quivering mount for his gaping mouth.
I got no time for this shit…why didn’t I bring my revolver?
“Don’t move! I’ll...shoot you! I swear I will!!” said the rifle-armed girl, her voice was tomboyish and rough but clearly nervous and uncertain.
“He has a dark muscle car…odd clothes I think it’s him…” the quivering young man uttered, his voice even shakier than his gun-toting companion.
They know me!?
“I don’t know who you are or who you think I am, but I’m scavenging this plant here, nothing else! I’ve got no quarrel with you two!” Iggy shouted, half demanding and half pleading.
“Citadel accent! Listen, it’s him! The Kill-Driver!! He murdered Uncle Novi!” the young man cried.
“Uncle Nov-who?” Iggy queried.
He was met with the response of the hammer of the rifle being pulled back, ready to shoot.
Nov…Novak and his wife...the scavengers that Sil...got rid of.
Iggy was taken back to the incident with the nomads that he and Sil ended up fighting, he remembered their eyes of fear when they realised the extreme force of nature Sil was.
She was merciless. She tore them apart and ate most of their bodies. Iggy himself reluctantly salvaged most of their equipment for himself. It was brutal, but they started it, and Iggy knew he was technically in the right. Even if he didn’t want Sil to kill Novak after he got cold feet and surrendered, he rationalized it as part of the way of the Big Waste.
“Wait a minute! I can explain! It’s not what you think, please I need this plant!” Iggy babbled desperately.
He was 4 feet from the cactus, but they had the drop on him. If she pulled that trigger, not only does he die, but Sil and Clarissa do too. He raised a hand in passive surrender.
The girl’s grip on the rifle is shaky, uncertain. She keeps it trained on him but she doesn’t shoot. There was a murmur from her throat before she blurted herwords.
“They were homesteaders! Just looking to support a convoy! You sick murdering fuck!!” she shouted accusingly.
The young man cut off her yelling with a panicked warning.
“Joely, he has a pet too, a rabid bitch that’s more dog than woman. Had her eat the bodies after he slaughtered them!!”
Sil? She was doing most of the killing, I just shot the Tin-Man. Who told them this story?
Iggy’s alert eyes caught Joely’s finger moving to the trigger and tensing up to squeeze, he closed his eyes and thought of his actions up to this point, swearing to have no regrets.
No...regrets? Regret nothing, own it.
Iggy rose to his feet as if the rifle trained on him didn’t exist, and looked at the two assailants up and down. Assessing them as the panicky teenagers they were. Iggy’s face became a vindictive scowl, and his mouth curled in a cruel smirk.
“You’re shaking, just like Novak did, right before my partner tore him in two with one swipe,” Iggy recalled coldly, with a guttural tone. “He watched his stupid wife’s skull get popped like a sludge-melon. I think he shit himself at that moment, right before I blew his cheap Tin-Man’s head clean off.”
“Y-you...bastard! Y-you demon!” the young man sobbed. Iggy watched as his upper-body began shaking like a washing machine as tears squeezed from her eyes.
“You COWARD, killing good people with a crazed mutant dog!” Joely said with equal parts fear and conviction.
“You stupid kids, she’s not a mutant, or a dog or a bitch. My partner is the Fenrir, and she’s in my car now, hungry as ever...listen.” Iggy declared with a cruel smile.
The pained cries from Sil continued from the car. When they both were silent enough to hear it, their faces drained of all color, as if they became the living dead.
“FENRIR!!! IT’S HERE!!!”
“IN THE CAR!? FENRIR?!”
Iggy had never seen anyone scream so loud or run so fast in his entire life. Not only the two teens but a few of the masked scavengers in the surrounding area made a hard break for it when they heard the name of the wolf monster being repeated.
Joely had dropped her rifle before she turned heel, and Iggy instinctively took it with him. It was a bolt action rifle known as a 2-2, a popular model for guards and hunters on a budget. As Iggy watched the Nomads sprint for their lives he felt different than normal, but similar to how he did with his night with Clarissa. He exhaled all of the fire out of his spirit and shut his eyes to refocus.
Alright, clear-wet, time to do your thing.
The cactus was incredibly tough, it’s thick skin was like battle armor. Iggy couldn’t even pierce it with a pen-knife. He had to spend a bullet from his new rifle to blow a few smaller chunks off. Iggy estimated they should be small enough to put into her mouth, hoping that was how it worked.
Iggy marched back to his car with two hands full of cactus chunks. His uncertainty made the 5 second walk back to Blockgain feel like an hour.
After sliding back inside he cradled Sil in his lap, stroking her hair as he held a wet chunk of the cactus to her nose, desperately expecting she knew what to do with it. Iggy wasn’t 100% certain that the strong smelling plant he held was the same as what she used on him before. Neither was he sure this would cure her of the ridiculously powerful venom in her system.
“Sil, wake up, I found the Clear-wet...here.” Iggy informed gently.
When Sil’s eyes flickered open, she looked like death. Her skin wracked with blemishes, her neck was an almost transparent window to her failing arteries, and her eyes were bloodshot dark red. Her dry tongue snaked over her dry lips as she forced out words.
A tear fell from Iggy’s eye onto Sil’s forehead as soon as he heard her wild interpretation of his name on her breath. He held the cactus chunk a little closer to her face. Willing her to do whatever needed to be done with it.
Her swollen tongue ran over the glistening hunk of moist cactus, first as a sort of test-taste and then again as if to savour. She craned her head weakly to move her mouth closer and took the softest, slightest of bites. Iggy’s heart skipped with a light twinge.
“C-clear-wet..” Sil uttered with the slightest more conviction.
She followed with a larger bite, this time drawing the juices from the chunk like a human might with a peach or an orange. Iggy could hear gulping sounds from her quivering chest. Slowly as ever, she was eating more enthusiastically, until finally took the whole part in her mouth and devoured it.
With haggered shaky weakness, she pulled herself to a seated position with her arms locked around Iggy, finally turning to him to meet his gaze. Licking her lips as the dark blotches on her face began to fade, she grabbed another chunk of cactus from the seat and bit into it heartily.
“Mmph...more Clear-wet, Nishin, more!” She said with a half cocked, hungry grin.
Iggy threw his arms around her and sobbed long and loud. His grip around her tightened and his face buried deep into her shoulders as she continued to munch. His tears streamed down her chest and towards her hips.
We did it…