Fear The Dawn: Chapter 30

With all the excitement surrounding his narrow escape last morning and the returning of the orange-furred man it wasn't until later that evening that he remembered about the missing signal and the call for help. By that time he was long away, even with his spyglass he couldn't even glimpse the other ship he had visited, so he tied his rope to the mast again, more securely this time, and climbed down the side of the ship to dip his tail in the water. He didn't feel anything right away, his mind was still too preoccupied with his previous adventure. “That's over and done with”, he reminded himself, “I need to concentrate on finding that woman.” He closed his eyes, but it was the girl who came to his mind instead.
I'm so proud of you, my Karma”, she said, smiling.
What was she proud of?”, he wondered briefly, though he quickly came back to his senses. That was only a memory, a fleeting glimpse of a story lost to time, it wasn't connected to his recent experiences. And yet, this time the memory stayed with him: he could still see her face, look into her eyes, and hear her voice, whereas previously those things had escaped him. Was it possible that she could still contact him somehow? He had experienced enough strange things lately that he couldn't completely rule it out. “I want to see you”, he thought, but there was only silence. He shook his head. He had that memory, that was enough for now.

He filed his memories of the girl away in the back of his mind and set about listening for the signals again. It took a while, but eventually he started to feel a familiar pulsing sensation in the tip of his tail. This time there was one, then a second one, stronger than the first. That was it. “Only two?!”, he wondered incredulously. Were they really disappearing that quickly? He closed his eyes tight and tried to listen more carefully. One, then a strong one, then a pause, then the strong one again, then the first, then the strong one a third time. The stronger one was the more frequent of the two.
Wait. I might be confusing two separate signals coming from similar directions”.
Sure enough, it did seem like the first and third pulses were slightly different. There might even have been a fourth pulse, right at the same time as the second, but it was too faint to tell.
This is hard work”, he thought, wiping his brow, “how did Banshee ever manage to figure anything out this way?”. He had already lost track of which one was the ship that belonged to the man with the orange fur, but there were only two different locations to check now, so it really didn't matter. All he had to do was check each of those ships for that woman. It seemed that there might be two ships in one spot, so he could save time by doing that one first. He turned his ship around and sailed back towards where he had felt the strong signal.

After he had sailed for a little while, he climbed up to the base of the sail to take another look through his spyglass. The oceans were still totally clear as far as he could see, and worse yet, he could see the first traces of light on the horizon. He wouldn't reach the other ships tonight.
He dropped down from the sail and sat down on the deck. He had some time to think, so he went over his plan in his mind. The girl he was looking for was named Lapse. From what he could remember, she had brown, scruffy fur, and she was long and thin. She had seemed friendly enough, but they had torn her to pieces, and for what? He couldn't even remember anymore, all he could recall was that Line had said something mean, he had praised him for it, and then Line had gotten terribly upset and stormed off. That was the last time he had ever seen him. Could he have changed things if he'd gone after Line? Banshee had tried, but it didn't help, he still never came back. There was probably nothing anyone could have done, the way he used to be it was no wonder he drove everyone away. It was too late to change the past, all he could try to do was make up for the damage he had caused.

The sun was clearly visible at the edge of the sky now. Before he could make amends, he would have to face his punishment once again. He looked up to the sky and wondered what Line had seen on that morning when he went away...

Heads-up, doofus!”
Karma jolted back to his senses just in time to see a large red object heading straight towards him. He quickly twisted his body and it whizzed right by, barely missing him.
Lucky”, someone said. He took a quick glance at his surroundings. He was in a tall, white room, with about a dozen strangers. Most of them were gathered around the edges of the room, but a few were standing alone in the middle. There were two others near him, and two more facing them.
Pass it back”, that same voice said again. It belonged to a large man on the other side. The red thing flew over his head, and the large man caught it. He took a few steps back, then ran for a few steps and threw it. Karma crouched down, ready to jump out of the way, but it didn't come near him, instead it bounced off the stomach of the rather wide man beside him.
Oh yeah! Lard shot!”, the man who had thrown the object declared, pumping his fist. “Didn't even have to aim on that one!”. The wide man didn't seem hurt, he just hustled off to the side of the room. “Two losers left.”
The other man beside him picked up the red thing and threw it with one hand, but it slipped from his fingers and flew on a high, slow arc, which the large man easily caught. “You throw like a girl, wimp!”, he declared, and the smaller of the two men who had been on his side also hustled off to the side of the room. “Just one left”.
The large man reeled back to throw the red thing again, and Karma nimbly hopped to the side as it zipped past him. It bounced off the wall and rolled to a stop near his feet as he remained ready for another attack.
Pick up the ball!”, someone yelled at him from the other side of the room.
He walked over to the round, red object, and picked it up in one hand. He decided to hold onto it for now.
Hit him with it!”, everyone on the other side of the room yelled at him.
Karma shrugged and hunched down. The large man on the other side did too, ready for him. With one explosive burst of speed, he was on the move, flying towards the other man, ready to strike him with the ball. Just before he could hit him, though, there was a terribly loud, high pitched squeal, and he dropped the ball in surprise. The large man laughed.
Oh man, I never thought I'd see someone who was too stupid to play dodgeball”. He picked up the ball and clonked Karma on the head with it. “You can't cross the line, dumbass”. Karma was ready to pounce on him, but the others started to leave, so he restrained himself. He followed the others through a door that lead into a much smaller room.

Did everyone see how great I was?”, the big man boasted. Karma was already starting to dislike him intensely.
That's because you always made us give you the ball”, someone replied.
Yeah, but I'm the best shot. If you losers threw the ball they'd just catch it and you'd be out.”
No one else seemed to want to argue with him.
Hey Brad”, he said, slapping one of the other large men on the back. “I kicked your team's butt today. Too bad you got stuck with the fatso and the guy who doesn't know how to play!”
Yeah yeah, good game”, he said, not really wanting to deal with him either.
I'm starved!”, he said, oblivious to any ill will towards him. “Let's go get grub!”
Karma and the others followed him into another room. This one was gigantic, and there were tables and chairs scattered all throughout the room. He approached a table where some women were sitting.
Hey babe, nice seat. Is it taken?”
Yes, buzz off, creep.”
Geez, must be that time of the month”, he said, obviously loud enough that she could hear him. He instead pulled up an empty chair at a different table and flopped down in it, and to Karma's great surprise the others from before sat down at the same table. The smaller man whose throw had been caught went to sit down beside him, and he pulled the chair away at the last moment, causing him to fall on the floor. “Way to sit, dweeb!”. The small man laughed insincerely and sat down.
Karma watched the whole scene incredulously. “Don't tell me these people that he treats so badly are his friends?”. The stranger took something from one of the others and lifted it out of their reach.
So, who caught the game last night?”, he asked. There were assorted murmurs in response. The mood at the table was definitely icy, but he seemed not to notice it. “I figured you losers wouldn't have much interest. You guys don't know anything about sports. Especially this guy”. He picked up some kind of flat object and waddled over to Karma with it. “Look at me, I'm playing dodgeball! I'm going to hit you! Bonk! Bonk!”
Karma struck him with the back of his hand so hard it sent him sprawling to the ground. He obviously hadn't expected it at all, he just lay there in a heap, completely dumbfounded.
Man”, the wide man said, “I've been waiting years for someone to do that”.
The big man collected himself. “Hey, you can't do that to me!”, he said, trying to sound tough. “I'm gonna...”
He stopped. Everyone had left, the big room was empty except for Karma and the stranger, and the lights had dimmed. Even if he hit Karma back, no one cared anymore, they had had enough of him.
Smarten up, idiot”, Karma told him, “or else this is how it's going to turn out.” With that, he left the room as well, with the stranger still standing there. The big room gradually faded to darkness, and his ship was waiting for him just outside. He hadn't meant to lose his temper, but he had to admit he enjoyed the look on his face when they all left.
He deserved it”, he thought, “if only someone had stood up to me, maybe things would have been different.” His mind flashed back to the destruction on the lower deck. “Better we find out before it's too late. Maybe that stranger can still change.”

Back on his ship, he returned his thoughts to his search for Lapse. “She was all alone, too”, he remembered. That was what they had teased her about. How terribly appropriate that he should now suffer the same fate. At least it would make it easier to find her ship, if the ship was full of people, it couldn't be that one. He looked through his spyglass again. In the distance, he could just start to make out the outline of a ship on the horizon.
It won't be long now”, he thought, taking the wheel of the ship in his paws. He couldn't afford to get too close, lest he be spotted and his entire plan thrown awry, he needed to make sure he was close enough to make out the people on the ship and nothing more.

He finally came upon them a little later that evening. To his great surprise, there were three ships all in one place. He quickly raised his sails and dipped into the water to double-check what he had heard before. Sure enough, there were four pulses again, the three that were just ahead and one that was farther away.
What does it mean?”, he wondered. Had he just been mistaken in his previous count? But what about that voice he heard calling for help, and that strange thick air that had filled this place two nights ago? Something was definitely going on here, that must have been why they were all gathered in this place. He returned to his perch upon the sail and studied the ships through his spyglass. He quickly spotted the orange-furred one from before on the deck of one of the ships. He was talking to someone with fluffy white fur who kind of reminded him of Banshee, albeit much more robust, and it slightly bothered him to watch them. He quickly turned to the other ships. Various people were milling about on the deck of one of the other ships, so he knew it couldn't be that one, but he could see no one on the third deck. He kept watch for a little while, but still no one appeared.
It could be that one”, he thought aloud, putting the spyglass down, “but how am I supposed to get close enough to find out?”. He hadn't really thought that far ahead with his plan. If it was just Lapse by herself, he could probably approach her, but with the other two ships there he couldn't risk being seen. Did they plan to stay together for a while?

His question was quickly answered as one of the ships started to pull away. Then one of the others started moving as well. They were both heading towards his current position. Karma quickly dropped down from his perch, lowered his sails, and swung the ship around, desperate to get away. As soon as he was moving again, he quickly moved to the side railing and took another look at the third ship. It had yet to move, and its deck was still empty. “This is my chance”, he thought, swinging wide around the other ships. He positioned his ship on the other side of the empty ship and waited patiently for the others to pull out of sight. Karma looked through his spyglass one more time to double-check, but there was still no one to be seen on the deck. It was now or never.

As he slowly guided his ship closer to the empty ship, he started to feel very nervous. In all the time he could remember he had never done anything like this. True, he had sometimes come close enough to challenge the other ships in the morning, but he had never actually been on board another ship before, apart from that very short time when he had taken the orange-furred one back, and that had been nerve-wracking enough. Yet Line had just found his ship and come aboard like it was nothing. He must have been very brave, very stupid, or perhaps a little of both. Karma tried to summon some of that foolish confidence as he slowly closed in on the other ship. He'd need something he could use to get across, the broken table he had used last night had fallen in the water. He turned around to head below deck, and then he saw something that made him break into a run.
The sun was coming up.
Not now!”, he cried, slipping and falling halfway down the broken ladder. He grabbed the first broken board he could find and scrambled back up above deck, but just as he was about to place the board down the light washed over him and took him away.

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