A Force Against Inertia

By Dixxy mouri

Epilogue

Cobbler's eyes opened.

It was time. One of his three favorite meals of the day should be ready soon.

BREAKFAST.

Excitedly he tore out of his bed, scrambled across the floor, and slammed into a wall on his way to the door. Shaking it off, he bolted from the room, raced down the stairs, and slid into the kitchen, looking eagerly at Mac. He knew that it was breakfast time, Mac knew it was breakfast time, so why wasn't his breakfast ready yet?

Mac looked at him with sleepy eyes. "How are you so energetic this early in the morning?"

Cobbler continued to stare and cocked his head to the side. How could he NOT be?

Mac yawned, fumbling with a handful of dry food and a can of wet food. Cobbler started to salivate. Those were his two favorite breakfast foods (and lunch foods, and dinner foods). Sure, people food was exciting, too, but Mac didn't let him have it very often, even if he begged (actually, especially if he begged) and he usually had to rely on a visitor to the house to sneak him a piece of ham or some chicken or whatever it was they had on them.

Cobbler couldn't figure out why nobody – not even guests – would give him shoes, though.

Mac finally put his food bowl down on the floor and Cobbler greedily stuck his face in it. Now that he was eating breakfast the day could really begin. They'd get to go out on a walk soon, and maybe they would play with his ball or a stick, or maybe he'd get a stomach rub. Maybe, just maybe, he'd get a biscuit, and that would just make the day AMAZING.

The happy dog watched as his owner opened the door to the backyard. Ah, so it was this kind of morning. That was okay, he didn't mind at all. He had some toys out there and one of his favorite pee spots, and it was okay to do that sometimes. There was plenty of room to run around, so it was just a little less scenic than a walk.

Mac rubbed his knee. Cobbler frowned. Sometimes he had trouble walking on that leg. He didn't know why – certainly sometimes the human looked like he was in pain, but he didn't seem angry or sad about it. He would just grit his teeth, let the moment pass, and be done with it. It was one of the reasons why backyard days happened – between that and the human's very busy schedule that sometimes left him too exhausted to keep up with him.

His eyes lit up when he saw what was in the backyard.

It was the cold white stuff.

AWESOME!

After marking his territory and bounding around in the snow for a bit, Cobbler nudged against the gate and found, much to his surprise and delight, the gate was open. Funny, Mac didn't USUALLY leave the gate open. He turned to the human, but saw the human had gone inside. Cobbler cocked his head to the side. Maybe Mac had to pee – humans liked to pee in the big white water bowls inside of houses, which was weird, because he got in trouble as a puppy if he did that inside.

Cobbler pushed the gate open with his nose and trotted outside of the gate, looking around happily and wagging his tongue as he went on his own little walk. Perhaps he'd find one of the other dogs from town to play with, or one of the other humans – some of them liked to scratch him behind the ear or give him treats.

The dog wandered onto the beach. The water was cold, and everything smelled like salt and sand and fish. He woofed and continued on, catching sight of a small boat. Curious, he crept towards it and sniffed. Funny. Most of the time boats just smelled like fish. This boat smelled like the doctor. He growled, but then the boat made a sound.

Curious, Cobbler poked his head over the side.

There were two very sick humans inside. One of them was awake, and she (it smelled like a female) was looking at him funny. She lifted a hand and he sniffed it, whimpering. She mumbled something, and Cobbler knew that something was very, very wrong. He jumped into the boat and licked their faces. The girl didn't respond much, the other one (male) didn't wake up.

Cobbler threw his head back and started to howl.


"Stupid . . . ignorant . . . braindead . . ."

Marcus Braeburn had McIntosh Smith's arm over one shoulder as he helped the mayor follow the obvious path that the dog had gone on. "He's a dog, Mac – Cobbler doesn't know any better. He sees someplace new to go and he just goes. Once he sees us he'll probably come running over, bark, and then follow us back to your place for food."

Mac sighed, thankful that the blacksmith just happened to drop by that morning. He'd left the dog for just a few minutes to get the front door. He and the blacksmith exchanged pleasantries (Braeburn asked about Mac's mother, and Mac asked how the seamstress and her small family was doing). His bad knee was acting up again but, despite the old injury, he wanted to help look for Cobbler and not just leave it in Braeburn's hands. "You're right. Cobbler's a good dog, he's just . . . he's just . . . young, I guess. He's barely over a year old."

"See? Might as well still be a puppy. It's not like they turn a year old and suddenly they're a model dog. It doesn't work that way with people, either – you think I magically became a responsible adult at midnight when I turned eighteen? Hell no – I disappeared for three days on my parents and got into all sorts of trouble I hope they never found out about. He just needs some more training and then voila – the perfect canine companion you've always wanted," the blacksmith said with a grin.

The mayor and the blacksmith heard the sound of Cobbler's howling and barking. Mac blanched. "That is not one of his normal cries. Something's going on." The two men moved as quickly as they could towards the sound of the barking, while a hundred thoughts buzzed through Mac's mind. Was Cobbler hurt? What he frightened of something?

"COBBLER! COBBLER!" Mac yelled.

A small, washed up lifeboat came into view. Cobbler was standing in it, and when he saw his master he started barking, jumping out of the boat and pacing back and forth in front of it. Braeburn froze, his eyes wide. "Washed up lifeboat? Shit." The blacksmith left Mac where he stood and ran towards the lifeboat, Mac limping behind as fast as he could. Braeburn's right – my bad knee might not be as bad as whatever's in that boat.

"MAC! MAC! GIVE ME YOUR COAT!"

The sound of desperation and panic in the blacksmith's voice was strong enough that he didn't question it. This was compounded by the removal of Braeburn's jacket , which he was placing in the lifeboat – someone was alive in that boat and in bad shape. He started to take his jacket off and threw it to Braeburn, who caught it and placed it in the boat as well.

Cobbler was barking up a storm the whole time.

"What is . . . oh God."

Inside of the lifeboat was a pair of shaking, shivering people. They had been shaved bald, looked severely underweight, and had bare legs that made Mac question what they were wearing besides the jackets he and the blacksmith had donated. Their skin was pale and sickly, like they hadn't seen the sun in a long, long time. One of them was awake and crying – the other was unconscious and looked pained, but was still breathing.

"What do we do, Mac?" asked Braeburn.

Mac closed his eyes. Now was not the time for him to panic. He was the mayor of this island, and it was up to him to provide leadership. "We're going to carry them back to my house," he said, kneeling down and gathering up the conscious one. She (it sounded like a she) was still crying, but Mac gently tried to soothe her. "It's going to be okay – you're safe now. We're going to get you warmed up and get your something to eat."

"Mac, what about your knee?" asked Braeburn, staring at the mayor in shock.

"A small miracle - it got better all of a sudden. Now let's get going before these two catch pneumonia!" The blacksmith's eyes widened, taking a second to understand exactly what the mayor had meant. He nodded, grabbing the other one and encouraging Cobbler to follow them back to Mac's house.


Author's Notes

And that is the end of A Force Against Inertia, the first book in the Laws of Motionseries.

Well, unless you could the Straw Hat side stories. And other side stories I might have planned ~_^

First and foremost, the thanks yous:

To God, for everything.

To everyone who looked at the story, bounced ideas with me, or did any kind of a spelling/grammar check for me. In particular I want to thank Triple C and MishaGirl who extended the most help of this kind (although several others including but not limited to Dandy Wonderous, Bronze Tigress, and people I know in real life also helped out).

To everyone who left positive and/or constructive feedback on the story as it was posted.

I hope you enjoyed the story and I'll be posting "Sought" hopefully sometime in the coming weeks! Mass x Accelerationshould have the prologue out sometime in July or (due to Otakon being at the end of July and 30 Pieces starting up again July 1) early August.

Thank you, take care of yourselves, and stay happy and healthy!

Dixxy