Better late than never, eh? This is the final part of the second half's trilogy. From this point on is mostly conjecture, with a few standing facts thrown in. Just to let you know.
Part VI: The End
The water was loud, was his first memory. The second was the sound of shouting. The third was that he was naked, save for something cool resting on his chest.
He opened his eyes to find that he was on a beach. Above him, the sky was silver, its waves reflected on the water below. Rushing towards him were two people, a man and a woman, military by the look of their uniforms. The man took a blanket from his bag and wrapped it around the shivering child.
"What's your name?" the other asked gently, as she took a bottle of water from her bag and handed it to the boy.
"My – my name?" he asked. "I – I don't have a name."
Inside his head, a dull thumping persisted. It was barely noticeable, but it was there.
They ran back toward their group. Their commanding officer frowned at the sight of the boy.
"We don't need another mouth to feed," he grunted.
"What were we supposed to do, sir?" The woman argued. "Leave him out there? The storm only just passed!"
He curled up as close as he could to the male officer holding him. Unconsciously, he protected the thing dangling from his neck.
"That's enough, Lieutenant Yana!" he barked. Then his expression softened a bit, and he sighed. "He'll be your responsibility, then."
She nodded crisply and turned to her fellow officer, who was still holding the child.
"Hills, we need to get him some clothing," she murmured. "Do you know of any small officers in your battalion that might donate an extra set?"
"I think Jennings has an extra pair of pants he can have," the man said. For such a large man, his voice was quiet and gentle. "And Franks grew out of his shirt."
"Right then," she said. "You two go get the clothing, I'll go rustle us up three rations."
Twenty minutes later, the three were huddled under the poor excuse for a tent that served as a dining area for their twenty person unit. Well, now twenty-one.
He looked around at the miserable people surrounding him as he ate his ration packet.
"What are you fighting for?" he asked quietly.
Yana looked at him, chewing her ration pack silently. "It's the usual story. One side doesn't like the other and to protect what you still have, you have to take up arms." She gently scooped up the crumbs and ate them too. "Not as much fighting nowadays, both sides are almost completely burnt out. You arrived just after the last nasty skirmish. With any luck, it'll be the last and I can go home. I've heard rumors someone might have found another clue to Utopia. Ought to be interesting, digging into that instead of wielding a gun."
His ears perked up. "What's Utopia?"
"Don't be putting stories in the kid's head," said another officer. He was different, not human for starters, with a flat nose, dull purple eyes and extremely pale skin. When he blinked, it was sideways.
Yana waved a hand. "The whole idea's been around for thousands of years, Krostan, who's to say it is or isn't true?"
Krostan snorted. "Whatever."
An explosion outside ended whatever else might have been said. With a "stay put!" thrown over her shoulder, Yana, Krostan and the others grabbed their guns and ran out to fight. He took refuge under the table and closed his eyes. Inside his head, the drumming pounded in rhyme with the sounds of shouting and gunfire.
When he was discovered an hour later, still huddled in the same position, by a different team from a related unit, he asked about the ones who had rescued him.
One shook his head. "All gone, kid. They fought and died and lost."
Another asked him, "What's your name, son?"
He sucked in a breath, exhaled and said, "Yana. My name is Yana."
I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it. An additional thanks to those who reviewed.
~Jennifer R. Song