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The Beginnings to the End

By , Sacramento, CA

The final shreds of hope for the peoples of this planet burned thin in the last days of the world they once knew. The blasts from the M-A bombs made the land a complete war zone-- many were killed by the blasts or by its environmental destruction, many mutated beyond their sentience, while those who avoided losing consciousness or mutation altogether turned to the savage actions of raiding the people who were trying to get by. This, by their own clocks, was within a short amount of a few days.

But no, none of this had happened without reason-- people began to lose their own grip on reality long before the final straw was pulled. The times before the blasts, before even the conception of total annihilation, were a war zone in its own. Many after this final destruction called this "The Battle of a Thousand Years" for two reasons mostly: the conflict between the eastern and the western worlds was said to have lasted about a thousand years and the aftermath of the battle would last another thousand; thus, giving its heavy name.

---

He had woken up abruptly-- a broken, charred board fell onto his face, leaving a crack in his glasses. Taking a look at his surroundings, he saw only the caved in roof to his home and many of his belongings destroyed. The shock waves from the blasts had knocked Nyala into a coma while it destroyed everything he once knew. Next thing was that he accidentally set his surroundings ablaze again.

Pulling himself out of the ruins of his home, he rushed to where the original entrance was and watched the rest of his flames eat away at the former house. Shaking his head, he slowly turned away from it to look into the distance.

Beyond, there was fog. The radiation had moved onto these parts of Neraka-- the province-- from the capital within the few days Nyala was in his coma, making it harder to see. But due to being of the yujin race, he had a special resistance to the radiation while the fog didn’t bother him.

“They finally went through with it, huh..?” Nyala sighed at the scenery. He decided to take a look around the ruins. Within them, he found a yujin corpse near the entrance with a pole through its head. Some of its features mirrored Nyala: unusually short and stocky, but with different attire. It was Shan.

But Nyala had no love for his brother. For all he knew, he didn’t even have a brother. The perverse actions and attitude of Shan combined with the favoritism that consumed their mother, Nyala was left as a traumatized man. So with both Shan and Serpih being GONE, it was more of a miracle than a tragedy.

Grabbing one of Shan’s arms, he pulled his brother’s corpse into the ruin. The fire flashed greatly as the corpse entered it, but it had no effect on the yujin disposing of him. It was a feeling of true hatred-- to put someone’s corpse into a bath of flames. And, of course, yujin corpses burned well.

There was no point in being here anymore; not for memories and not for his former belongings-- which were mostly destroyed-- so he began to trek away from the neighborhood.

Nyala could've made a detour, but he wanted to leave as soon as possible. He walked into the fog, lighting it up as he passed. The life he once knew here was gone, but he didn’t care. It was time to find answers elsewhere.

---

  Nyala ventured for a day or two, wandering from his neighborhood to the rim of the capitol. It was his only current destination. He hid, ran, and went as far as burning down camps in order to stay free and alive. Nyala was no warrior-- staying out of sight and mind is what he became experienced at even before the war. But now it was a weakness in the new world.

  It was unpleasant the past few days-- no bathing, no knowingly palatable dinners, and no hospitality from other survivors. If Nyala had to eat underdone bark straight from a tree or drink used motor oil to live, then so be it. Hopefully, he’ll find something in Urbatoea, maybe even someone with a sense of reason.

  There was an abandoned home Nyala rested at. Within, he relaxed a bit and wondered about what exactly he’ll do in the city besides finding answers. The suffering from not even a week could’ve killed him-- be it starvation, murder, or himself giving up. But he wouldn’t go just yet. No, he needed to reach Urbatoea.

  He was certain of what he first wanted to do and it was find out about them. They were the only person he cared about and now only searching about their fate was how he’d ever feel peace.

---

  Perriwin was a kucing-orang-- just one of the mortals made of flesh and blood. They had no resistance like a yujin, so it’s likely they just died. But they were a kucing-orang-- one of the “perfect” peoples. Even through the destruction, they were sure to have lasted against it. It even showed through the copious amount of raiders Nyala needed to avoid.

  But Perriwin wasn't just any kucing. They were once a close friend of Nyala’s and the two were inseparable when they hung out together. Prior to the tragedy, though, they stopped talking to each other as often.

---

  It was a rainy day in the capitol. Not suitable for a yujin to wander out. So the duo stayed inside Perriwin’s apartment and gushed about upcoming things such as TV shows.

Perri looked through a Children’s Media magazine to see what it has to offer. “I do not think there is anything wrong with liking such things as a fully-grown adult,” Nyala said as he picked up an empty tea cup from their coffee table, jokingly taking a sip from it. Smirking at the remark, they replied, “Yeah, if you aren’t a crony. Sheesh, those guys take it too far.”

  Nyala was giggling. “Or a lavaling.” Perri rolled their eyes. “They aren’t THAT bad, ya know. If you overlook the bullying and the harassment of Laval Launch’s crew members, they’re actually a pretty good set of fans.”

  Punching his arm, Perri laid back on their couch and put their legs on his lap. “At least they don’t draw really gross stuff like all the time. Like, the only example I can really think of is this one picture of Laval and Jawnie eating charcoal and--” Nyala pushed their legs off of his lap and made a disgusted face, his glasses falling down. “YEAH, don’t REMIND me. It was 13 in the MORNING and I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night because you HAD to show me. You’re pretty lucky I’m not exactly repulsed, instead just grossed out by older people drawing kids doing...THAT.” They laughed at his displeasure.

  “But, ya know,” they leaned over to him, pushing his glasses back up, “I, uh...had something similar to talk about. Except less pedophiliac porn and more of romantic stuff.” Nyala stared at them with an empty look while their face began to turn red against their lilac skin. “It’s important. Like, really important. I honestly can’t stop thinking about it.”

  “Writing another fanfiction?”
  “No.”
  “What, got another pairing?”
  “Eehh…”
  “Perri, I’m dumb, just tell me.”

  “But you AREN’T dumb, Aly. You’re smart and..and nice and…” Perri looked away from him and covered their face. “..And that’s why I love you and can’t stop thinking about you…”

  It took a second for this to sink in. “Wait...what,” Nyala said in a confused manner, his face turning blue to match with theirs. “I don’t understand..what exactly makes you feel that way. You know I don’t have any redeeming features.”

  Perri tore away from the couch, balling their hands into fists. “Stop putting yourself down like that! I don’t like seeing you unhappy!” A horrifying grin spread across Nyala’s face as he slowly turned his head to stare up at them and speak once more, “I have nothing, you know. I AM nothing. That’s why I don’t understand anything. THAT’S why I live with the worst sibling possible and why our mom was vile. I was meant to be worthless.” His fingers dug into his lap, the air around them began to heat up.

  Putting their hands in their face, Perri shook their head and replied, “Please...stop saying this about yourself, love. You’re-- you’re--” Nyala rose up from his seat, the air getting more hot. “I’m worthless, Perri. I don’t even understand love.” Tears ran down his face as Perri put his hand on their cheek. His form began to distort from his growing embers; Nyala was in his own bubble of self-hatred at this point. He put his free hand on his face, weeping softly.

  The scream brought him back to reality. His natural self-containment thinned from the emotional distress and was starting to set everything ablaze around him-- including Perriwin. As his form reset, Nyala panicked and rushed into the kitchen as Perri attempted to put the fires out with the couch cushions. He then ran back into the living room-- clearly in pain-- with a bucket of water and attempted to throw it all over the place without pelting himself. Unfortunately, some of it splashed back at him and left part of the char on his left arm exposed.

  And there they remained. The place was a mess-- they were a mess, the duo. Perri now had a burn mark on their face, a bag of ice on it and Nyala sat on the ground with a hand on his arm.

  “If..you didn’t want to be with me,” Perriwin began, their voice low with pain, “then that’s all you had to say.” Nyala looked up at them, taking off his glasses. “I..I don’t know.. I don’t understand this or anything. I’m sorry, Perri.”

  “I don’t blame you for this. I probably would’ve reacted the same way if I was you… I just think you should leave before everyone gets home.”

  Nyala gave a big sigh before standing up. No matter what Perri said, he still had himself to blame for this. He headed towards the door, briefly looking back at them before. “I’m sorry’, he whispered, leaving the apartment.

---

  The last time Nyala saw Perriwin was about a month ago. Embarrassment consumed him the days after the incident at their apartment. He didn’t know what he’d do when-- or if-- he finds them.

  He made a brief trip to their apartment. Accessing it was a chore and while he found no signs of living people or corpses, he found out that many of the belongings were gone. A bizarre sight, considering that many of the other apartments were littered with corpses.

  What wasn’t bizarre is how barren the city was. It was a direct target by the bombs-- used to make a special example. Many of the buildings were ruins by this point and the radiation levels were incredibly high, but of course, the rads didn’t affect him. The place he ended up after exploring some of Urbatoea’s ruins was a cave system in Midtown he and Perri used to hang around when they were in secondary school, like a secret tunnel only they knew about; but in recent years, it was guarded by city officials.

  Everyone in the city was either dead or gone and there was no need to worry about officials, so Nyala let his curiosity get the best of him and wandered through the entry. But the cave was different; it reached much farther than he previously remembered. So, he went deeper.

  The deeper he went, the confused he got. Why was this cave dug out further? What will he find at the end of it? The answer came quickly and he found a colossal, metal door. Near the door was a control panel and a black screen with a microphone attached. Out of nowhere, he heard static followed by a voice. The voice was feminine, asking, “Who…? Who the hell are you? This private property! No unofficiated persons are allowed on these premises under Direct Code 12:03 of the Nerakan Province Bill!”

  Then, a face flashed on the black screen-- the owner of the voice, Captain Autarche. She was the captain of Urbatoea and overseer of Neraka. From the looks of it, she was also captain of whatever was down here.

  “Leave immediately, yuj. We don’t have room for more people anyways, let alone one of you,” Autarche’s tone was sour, obviously having a rough day as is. It was no secret that the aven-orang disliked the yujin. Autarche made it clear enough during her campaigns and her speeches that she felt as though the yujin were reckless and destructive, flaring up some hatred towards them in the few years she’s been the overseer of Neraka.

  But Nyala wouldn’t listen to her, even if he hated himself and hating being a yuj. “Listen,” he said calmly, his eyes narrowing, “I need to know one thing about something-- mostly about someone. I know we want to be out of each others’ ha-- I mean, feathers but I can’t accept until you answer questions.”

  The aven’s beak clicked together, her tone becoming even more sour. “I have the authority to remove you--” He then interrupted, “You don’t know how it’s like out here. It’s irradiated. And knowing you, you don’t have yujin officials, Meiy. Answer my questions like a captain is required to.”

  Autarche’s face was red and her feathers were all over the place. Popping out onto the screen was one of her officials, a nonlem-orang. “I’ll take it from here, my master. Just stand back,” they said to Autarche, putting their hands up. “I’ll answer your questions if you’ll leave here, alright?” Nyala nodded.

The official smiled, “Good, what is it you wanted?” Nyala looked down at his feet. “I wanted to know what this place was first-- is it a shelter?”

  Their smile faded. “Yes, this is a shelter made for protection against the M-As. We can’t have too many people here or it’ll become overcrowded. As is, we’re close to hot-bunking. We don’t plan on coming onto the surface until the M-A radiation settles and is suitable for everyone.”

  “So, how many people are there and do you have a list?”
  “Yes, we have a list of all 413 members.”
  “That’s not a whole lot, isn’t it?”
  “No, it’s not. This bunker wasn’t made to suit all of Urbatoea’s population.”

  Nyala’s eyes widened. “Can you search for ‘Perriwin Kellchild?” The official looked down at a computer, typing up something. “Yes,” they replied, “they’re here.”

  It was a moment of pure joy for him. Perri MADE it there, somehow. “Can I see them?” he asked, smiling widely. The official looked at Autarche as she rolled her eyes. “Fine, whatever, bring this thing Kellchild member.”

  The official went over to an intercom, calling for Perriwin. After a few minutes, they arrived to the captain’s office. “What’s this about, my captain?” they asked the two officials quietly, having a sense of inferiority. “Well, that--” the captain began before her official interrupted her. “This person wishes to speak to you.” They pointed at the screen, Nyala appearing on it.

  Perri’s eyes lit up, smiling happily. They looked lovely in the bright office-- their purple skin shining along with their pointed ears perked up. The burn mark from the incident remained on their face as a scar. But from this scene, it was like that never even happened.

  “Oh god, I thought you were dead, Aly! Do you know how BAD the shocks hit the shelter? Could've tore us to pieces, holy hell,” they exclaimed loudly, putting their hands on the screen. “I missed you! I couldn't stop thinking about you the entire week!”

  Nyala put his hands onto the console, look straight into their eyes. It's what he's wanted ever since everything fell into oblivion. “I...Perri, I couldn't be more happy to see you,” his voice weak.

  Their expression faded upon hearing him. Slowly, they spoke again, “Aly, are you alright? Do you need any help--” Autarche glared at them, interrupting, “We AREN'T helping him. You're lucky enough YOUR family was able to join us.”

  Perri froze, all of their happiness thrown away. “But...he's just one PERSON, Captain. It's not like we're at the maximum yet--”

  “No, I won't allow it. Especially with the yuj part-- I don't want him planting a FOOT into my bunker, you understand me?” The aven’s face was red once again, clicking her beak at Perri. The kucing then looked at the other official.

  “I apologize, but this is what was decided-- no more outsiders,” the official said, their professional tone slightly faded away. “But...there is one compromise. If you so wish to be with the outsider, then you can leave and never come back.”

  Their happiness refilled upon this discovery, making Perri smile again. “Alright, then I'll go with you, Nyala!”

  Nyala pulled back from the console, holding his hands up. “Woah, no, no. Perri…”

  “‘No, no, Perri,’ what, Aly?”
  “I...I…”
  “Nyala, what's the matter?”

  “Perri, I don't want you to do this. You…you have a family and a home.” He was horrified at this point from the idea. The wasteland was a harsh place-- raiders, radiation… Anything went on and he knew that he didn't want to take away the much his best friend had.

  At this point, the yujin had nothing and didn't mind not joining the remaining 413 survivors. “But...I love you, Nyala Serpihchild.. I wouldn't want to lose you…”

  He rubbed his eyes under his glasses. “And I think you should keep what you have, Perriwin. I have nothing to come home to like you do. I'm so sorry about having to do this to you, but I would never want to put you in danger because of me.” Then, Nyala turned away from the screen.

  A yell was heard from the other side. He recognized the yell-- it was from Perri. But he didn't look back because he'd just start yelling and crying along with them. And then he made his way out of the cave. For all he knew-- it was the beginning of his end.




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