short story

Defender

It was Elizabeth’s third tour of duty in the sandbox… and she’d volunteered for it. Her friends and family thought she was crazy, and she agreed, maybe she was. Fuck if she was some kind of super patriot– she came to do what she could for the scratch poor tribals she saw caught between the giant gears of bullshit geopolitics. Not that she would admit that to anyone… fuck’em… let’em think what they want.

So another Saturday night ride out to the latest line in the dirt, one of those badass local sandstorms cranking up, and wouldn’t you know the convoy comes under fire just as the wind and blinding dust are howling and screaming around the whole mess.

Liz feels her ride take a hit and she’s tossed like a rag doll into the wind and fire and static discharge.

And that’s pretty much where *that* story ends.

She wakes up sore and groggy, half covered in dirt. She hears a plane screaming overhead and cracks open one eye, expecting to see one of “ours” given the current state of air superiority, but the fighter streaking by is like nothing she’s ever seen before and her training kicks in– hold still ’till it passes and then find cover.

So she does, but nothing looks familiar. Too much green… the footpath she woke up on has a low ridgeline on one side, a valley on the other, and close to where she’d been laying there’s some wreckage on the trail.

Her first impression was some kind of small remote controlled ground drone, armored and tracked, nothing she’d ever heard of before but who the fuck knows what gear the feds were screwing with these days.

Then she spotted the bodies.

Four of them scattered around the shattered mini-track… which she now saw as a tanklike thing, but way smaller, smaller than a smart car, and a totally unfamiliar design.

But the bodies… what the fuck!? Midgets? They were only about a foot tall… wearing typical military uniforms, but cut and colored like no faction she was aware of. The troops are all messed up bad, torn and broken, very dead.

But her focus was rudely interrupted by a growling sound up ahead, getting quickly louder, and she instinctively crawled deeper into the bush line, went prone, and stared out through the weird little leaves at the most fucking insane thing she’d ever seen…

Another small track pulls up and out hop more small soldiers, one obviously an officer by the orders he’s barking in a language she’d never heard before.

Liz holds her breath as a recovery team lands in a birdlike hovering flyer and gathers up the dead, then they dust off and eventually the other track tears off down the path.

Elizabeth lets out a shaky breath. “Well Toto… we ain’t in fucking Kansas anymore, that’s for sure.”

The next couple of weeks puts Liz in her survival training mode. She scouts out a small sheltered hollow in the ridgeline, barely a shallow cave, and as luck would have it the nearby valley has a village on a decent sized lake where she was able to poach some food and water at night when she wasn’t able to trap one of the little rabbity local critters– luckily not poisonous after a few tentative samples, and actually kinda tasty.

Once she had all that worked out, she started trying to figure how the fuck she got here… what the fuck *was* this place, and how to get back to where she belonged! The first night was a shock– totally unfamiliar night sky. No pattern she could figure out, and then there were the moons… yep. moons.

“Elizabeth Jane Kelly… whatthehell haveya gotten yerself into this time?” She muttered in her dearly departed dad’s heavy brogue.

So she keeps exploring and picking over the spot where she “landed”, for whatever good that did. Over time Liz gains a sort of distant familiarity with the little people in the village as she spies and waits for opportunities to sneak in and poach thier ample stockpiles of cheeses and grains. It’s mostly women and children, some elderly males, presumably the rest of the able bodied men were off fighting whatever the fuck conflict was raging away at the front she’d scouted about ten klicks down the footpath road. The one exception to the village mix was a young adult male she’d taken to calling “Red” in her mind, due to his full head of curly ginger hair and the well kept beard he sported. Red was a dynamic force in the village, helping out anyone in need and pitching in whereever he could, in spite of his pronounced limp, and she assumed that’s what kept him behind when the rest were off fighting. His own family seemed limited to an oldish mother and a kid sister who adored him, even after the good natured teasing that Liz sometimes witnessed Red dishing out to her. But she gave as good as she got, and it was obvious that they loved each other dearly.

As more time went by, Liz started feeling really grungy, and she decided to risk the occasional rinse in an isolated part of the lake during the godforsaken wee hours of the eighteen hour day. On a morning she was having one of these all too infrequent cleanups, leaning back in the altogether and enjoying her soak– one of the few simple pleasures her new reality afforded her! — a sudden gravel slide deposited none other than Red himself on the shoreline. Apparently Red had not only been spying, but really *enjoying* the view for some time, as evidenced by the state of his trousers– being not quite fully on, and he himself sporting a rather gallant lower profile… as it were.

Startled, Liz sits up and lets out a short “HEY!”, water cascading off her glistening nude body and dripping from all her high points as she scoots back and then tries to cover up as best she can under the circumstances.

For his part, Red’s face nearly matches the color of his curly hair, his mouth frozen in a comically rounded O, and he tears off half running half hopping and limping as he desperately tries to pull up his pants while making a hasty retreat into the woods.

And in spite of *her* cover being pretty much blown, Liz can’t help but giggle nervously and even goes so far as to laughingly call out quietly after the receding villager…

“Hey Red c’mon back, I’ll help ya finish!” She laughs, “ya little pervert!”

But all kidding aside, She immediately climbs out of the cool water and makes a hasty retreat of her own… spending the next two weeks laying super low and going hungry, waiting and worried that a posse of little warriors were going to start beating the bushes, or worse yet, carpet bombing the hills to deal with The Giant Water Lady once and for all.

But nothing happens.

“Well Red, either you’re too embarrassed or you’re a good egg, but my vote goes for both” Liz mused one evening in her shelter as she toasted in his general direction with a fresh bowl of village water.

And so it goes… the little war rages on around her, and Liz keeps wracking her brains trying to puzzle out the conditions that dropped her Somewhere, and carefully hooking the occasional fresh supply stash from Red’s town. She was starting to suspect that Red was helping her– it was getting easier, certain supplies were being left closer to the outer edges of the town.

“Thanks Red, *mwah*” She smooched toward the village one night, a cask of their thin alcoholic brew under one arm, a decent sized cheese wheel under the other.

Then on another night, all hell broke loose.

Liz was sneaking up to the village for yet another supply hook when she heard the sound of a disturbance. She recognized Red’s distinctive (albeit small, ha) tenor, and also his kid sister crying, and some other voices that she didn’t know– harsher and commanding. She picked up her pace and cautiously crawled to one of her vantage points, and came upon a scene that made her blood boil.

It was an APC patrol from the faction Liz had taken to calling the Occupiers– one of the troops had Red pinned against a tree near the lakefront, the soldier’s forearm hard on Red’s neck while he gut punched Red over and over again.

Two other two troops had Red’s sister cornered and were tearing at her clothes as she cried and fought back, but she was obviously overmatched and losing.

Liz felt her fury rise fast and hot… she really had no choice… with a strangled cry she broke cover and charged down the hillside.

The soldier working over Red saw her first, his widening eyes barely having time to register the sight of this furious Giantess charging down at him before her Boot connected, punting him with a bone cracking noise and launching him well above the treeline and off toward the horizon.

She turned and grabbed the other two assholes by the neck and smashed their faces against each other, then tossed them both far off into the lake.

Liz was turning to reassure the small young girl when she heard Red cry out, followed by the loud bark of cannon fire and a dull impact on the lower right side of her back, the force enough to spin her halfway around to see a soldier in the turret hatch of the APC that she’d neglected to check– he was furiously cranking the gun elevation for a head-shot when she drew her sidearm and blasted him to a bloody mess.

“Fuck fuck… oh jesus… fuck…” she chattered as the shock wore off and a massive jolt of pain brought her to her knees.

Red and his sister watched in open mouthed shock as Liz fought her way back to her feet and staggered off, nearly blind with pain, half trotting up the hill and toward her hidey hole… leaving a trail of blood spatters in her wake.

The trek back to her shelter was a pain filled red fog… and she crawled in just as the darkness was closing her vision with a contracting iris of oblivion.

* * *

A dim light joined the dull ache that had been her first shred of self awareness… that and a cool tingly wash against her sore back… then she hears Red’s quiet voice, and his sister’s questioning reply. Red repeats whatever he said and moments later Liz recognizes the low putter of one of the villagers small alcohol powered four-wheelers receding into the distance outside of her shelter.

Her eyes fly open and she tries to get up on her hands and knees, but the spike of pain in her flank and Red’s frantic waving downward prompt her to settle back. She’s lying on her stomach in the shelter, and a very concerned looking Red is standing nearby, next to a small pile of bloodstained linens, water buckets, and other unrecognizable stuff.

“Fixed me up didja loverboy?” Liz croaks ruefully.

Red looks puzzled.

Liz reaches around, wincing, and feels her back– there’s a makeshift dressing wrapped around her midsection. Red nods and reaches into a nearby bucket, pulling out a nasty looking deformed metal slug, makes a face, and points at her backside.

“knew you werea good egg” Liz mumbles along with a weak thumbs up that makes Red step back a bit until he understands it’s ok, then he nods and mimics the gesture.

“so tired” Liz manages… before she drifts off again.

Gradually her wakeful moments become more frequent. Sometimes Red is there to carefully change her dressings and feed her a thin soup he’s got in a cask that he rolls off the back of the four wheeler. Sometimes she wakes up alone, but in those cases there’s always food and drink within easy reach. She starts testing sitting up, and after a few setbacks she has some small victories. They start working on language– She learns that his sister’s name is “Denya” and he’s called “Kuden” but she jokingly insists on calling him Red anyway, and he finally gives up and applies her word for the thumbs up gesture-

ok Liz,” he laughs, “Red.”

Days and weeks go by, Liz gradually recovering from what by amounted to a gunshot wound– luckily far enough off center to miss anything important. She doubted that even Red’s good care could have pulled her though if her kidney or something else had been shattered. She starts taking small walks in the wee hours, Red hovering nearby in the little four wheeler like some kind of 12 inch tall nanny, fussing at her if he thought she was pushing herself too hard.

Finally after about six weeks they both agree that she’s recovered enough to resume her regular search for a way home. To celebrate her recovery, Red brings some of the hamlet’s stronger liquor, a rich purple meadlike drink.

But the mood is sort of bittersweet, both expecting that their regular contact will be diminished as they return to the routines they had before the encounter with the Occupiers.

Liz raises her small cask to Red and addresses him with some of what she’d picked up from their language work– “You saved me Red, fair skies to you and your kith,” then continues “I’m in your debt.”

“You saved us Liz. No debt owed.” Red promptly replies.

“aw Red, how could I let them hurt my secret bath watcher?” Liz replies, teasing him for the first time about their encounter at the lake.

Red’s face flushes and he looks down, totally embarrassed.

Liz sets her finger under the little man’s chin and lifts his face as she unbuttons her shirt.

“C’mon Red, you know you want to…” Liz says quietly as she curls her hand around his little butt and urges him to climb up onto her lap and into her topless embrace, “I do too.”

Afterwards, both naked and satisfied, Red nuzzling contentedly between her breasts, Liz marvels at the many ways they found to give each other pleasure. And that little beard… whew!

And the next morning they begin to make plans over breakfast. Plans to start disrupting the Occupiers from behind the lines… hopefully enough to give Red’s fighting people the opening they need to reclaim their lands.

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