Samiyuq Hernández Huapaya [Five] Jan 15, 2020 3:16:35 GMT -5
Post by GM Verena Halitrephes [WT] on Jan 15, 2020 3:16:35 GMT -5
content note*Samiyuq Hernández Huapaya -- genderqueer -- eighteen -- District Five
Second Games tribute [D5M]; rebel.
People get it backwards. They assume Samiyuq must not care about the bats; ze thinks ze couldn't do this job if ze didn't love them.
Not individually—ze doesn't know them by voice or sight, there are far too many for that, and everyone makes a point of not naming them. But ze knows the difference between a warning click and a mother telling her pup she's on the way, and between a mating song and a frustrated buzz, and when ze walks into the colony room the bats continue their business unperturbed. A few of them, usually the older females kept for breeding long enough to move past familiar into comfortable with the staff, will even come to hir sometimes—for help with an injured wing, or to demand mealworms, or simply to swirl around hir head clicking sociably. Ze learns to mimic those clicks, a little—probably only enough to chatter nonsense at them, but they seem to like it—simply because it feels like the thing to do. The bats are nothing like the goats back home in Five, never mind what Samiyuq said about experience with animals to get this position, but they make sense in a way that very little else in war does. Whatever Capitol geneticists did to make them more intelligent, they're easy to train, but they're still animals, who have simple needs and are content as long as someone meets them. Samiyuq appreciates that. Appreciates them.
They sometimes squeal in protest or squirm a little when ze treats an injury, but they never give Samiyuq that keening distress call. They know hir as a source of food and occasionally what passes for conversation, who has never come into the colony room to hurt them. To a bat, they are trusting and soft and gently, steadily warm under hir hands as ze attaches the explosives.---
Ze releases the last of the bats in the waning days of the war, when the writing on the wall is clearer every day but the last of the rebellion are still digging in their heels. The Nemesis-Cassiel Initiative isn't hir brainchild, but it's been hir responsibility since Zoran took a bullet to the face and Mikki took a bad case of necrotizing fasciitis to the everything; anyone highly ranked enough to stop hir from throwing the colony roof open is busy with their own death throes.
As ze sits in the middle of the colony room to wait, listening to the familiar scrapes and squeaks and flutters, Samiyuq thinks of hir parent—thinks of the look on their face as they asked hir to stay away from the front lines. I promise, ze said; and they both knew a rifle would find its way to hir hands eventually anyway, because war is about what you have to do, not what you try to do, so instead of telling hir not to lie, they ran their hands through hir hair one final time and said, I always knew I would have to let of you, but not like this. Come home, k'acha.
Ze wishes ze was setting them free, but there's no future for the bats in the wild, only a countdown until the Capitol gets their hands on them again. If they'll die either way, ze might as well make sure they aren't used against the rebellion.
At least they'll feel free for one evening. That's more than the rebellion has ever gotten.
Samiyuq isn't sure there's a future for hir, either, and thought for a long while—thought the whole way through arming the final round of explosives—about sending hirself out after them, somehow. Ze thought ze'd decided not to, but ze thinks about it again as the sky darkens and the first bats begin trickling into it. One last mission, one last sacrifice to pour all hir helpless, hopeless fury into; ze hasn't been in the field for months, but they rebels are dwindling and desperate now. They need people with nothing to lose.
Come home, k'acha. No one has called hir k'acha, or even Sami, in a long time. Maybe no one ever will again. Ze doesn't know whether home still exists—whether hir parent kept the farm safe and stayed there, chattering to the goats for companionship in the hardest days of the war the way ze's been clicking with the bats. Ze doesn't even know whether they're alive.
Ze won't find out by dying.
It's shaping up to be a pretty evening; when the bulk of the colony finally decides it's time to take wing, they're the only cloud in the sky. Samiyuq watches them as long as ze can, until they move together beyond where the lip of the roof blocks hir line of sight. True to their training, like every batch of bats released before them, these will go back to the home their not-so-distant ancestors were stolen from and roost comfortably in eves and under bridges while the timers in their tiny vests tick away; and despite everything, Samiyuq smiles, proud of them and proud of hir own work. Even if it's futile. Even if it's over.
Eventually only the pups are left—most quiet so soon after the adults left, a few already calling for their mothers to come back and let them nurse. Samiyuq stretches stiff knees, takes a deeper breath than even most of the other Nemesis-Cassiel staff would dare around that much guano, and goes to fetch the pentobarbital from the clinic.
*In the second part of the piece (in the paragraphs beginning "Samiyuq isn't sure" and "Come home, k'acha") suicidal ideation. Also, offscreen but directly referenced violent animal death, and in the last paragraph animal euthanasia.