The Fox and the Deer

Theta is a young man who lives in what was once known as Great Britain. Now, however, it's mainly just slums, along with the rest of the world, living off scraps of civilisation from before the Event. He and his friend, Sigma, only wanted to find the thing Theta valued the most, which had been taken, but things took an unfortunate turn for the worse. Now Theta's left with blood and his hands and turns the blame to the omnipotent Alphas, and uses all in his power to strike their hearts with revenge.

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2. Sigma and the Rats

I met my best friend in the world whilst scrounging for myself and little Rho. We were younger, I was about the age that Rho is now, when a boy around my age and I both saw the same thing at the same time. Both of us felt our hearts pound and our eyes widen at the very thought of it; clean water in a bottle, obviously left behind by a Med. Immediately we both ran as fast as our little legs could carry us and leapt for it, but he got it first. Naturally my survival instincts kicked in, so I snarled at him and we engaged in a feral struggle for the clean water. Eventually he got me on the floor and started to run off, but I shouted, "Please, I have a little brother, 'e needs it."

The boy froze. He turned around and, keeping his distance, shouted back, "Why's 'e need it?"

Coughing a little, I replied, "His legs en't worked since he were a baby. Mum died having him and my... my Dad's always down at the dens forgettin' the past. Please, we need it."

Cautiously, the boy made his way towards me. When he was a couple of arms' lengths away, he held out his hand. "Sigma," he told me curtly.

I stood, wiped myself off, and replied, "Theta." I took his hand and we shook, as sign that neither were carrying weapons. Of course, we both were, but neither meant the other harm.

"Bring your brother to mine at sundown, where the big glass station was," Sigma told me, then he ran off down the street, leaving me in the dirt without the clean water to give Rho. I still reckon he wanted me to follow him, so I sprinted after him as fast as I could, feeling the extraordinary lack of water kicking in at an alarming rate. Slowly, his figure disappeared behind the ruins of an old building as I keeled over, coughing my lungs up. Once the coughing finished, I looked up to see he was gone and stamped in frustration. Granted he could have been at the ruins of the big glass station, but there was a possibility that he only slept there, plus there was often pickpocketing around those parts, so instead I turned and headed back to where Rho and I slept, to see if I could find Rho so I could take him down in a few minutes at sundown to see what Sigma was on about. After all, he did seem pretty harmless...

*********

 At sundown I arrived - alone, because I was scared if I brought Rho they might hurt him - at what was once a huge glass station near central Liverpool. Sigma, sure enough, was stood at the top of the steps, leaning slightly more on his right foot than his left. This time I got a proper look at him. He wore a plain, slightly grubby t-shirt with a tear near the bottom, long shorts with dark green splodges on them (as part of the design, not as stains) and no shoes. He had shaggy black hair that he kept scratching and his skin wasn't like anybody else's that I knew. Now I know he was of South American descent, but then I only realised he wasn't from the Country, which in my experience meant he was new and should be treated wearily; I pretended to relax, like with a fox, so it doesn't know you're scared and doesn't attack. This is how I've always treated strangers and new things.

For a few seconds, or maybe even a few moments, nothing happened. Nobody moved.

"Where's the kid?" Sigma was projecting his voice to try and sound big, which served to make it louder but also amplifying the facked his voice was tense. He wasn't relaxed, and didn't care about hiding it. Already things weren't going as he'd planned.

"Didn't bring him in case he got hurt. He's only little, and weak, and I want him to stay safe." So far, so good, I thought. Nobody was throwing anything or bringing out knives like I'd feared. "What did you want to see me for?"

Sigma sighed and his shoudlers slouched a little. Almost as though he'd given in, he ran his fingers through his hair, had a scratch, sat on the step and told me, "You seemed in need and me and the lads, we help people in need as much as we can."

Perplexed, I asked, "The lads?"

A thin smile appeared on his lips. "Since the Event kids have been left on the streets, and we tend to... Cooperate with each other, to a certain extent. A shared experience, I suppose, growing up alone on the streets. You mentioned your Dad's always in the dens?"

Sighing and sitting on the next step down from his wih crossed legs, I nodded. "He en't my Dad though. Dad links with something affectionate, and he's nothing to me." After a pause, I accentuated it be repeating, "Nothing."

"I get you," he told me, a real smiling appearing. "I never knew either of my parents, I'm guessing the Meds left me with them and they just dumped me here. However it happened, a bunch of us got together. You've heard that some 'sneaky little rats'," he mimed speech marks with his fingers as he said those three words, "have been terrorising the population by pickpocketing the innocents?"

I nodded, getting a feeling where the was going.

Making a triangle with his fingers, he put them in his mouth and released a high-pitched noise, which made me instinctively cover my ears. "What in the name of all the Alphas was that?"

He stared at me, dumbfounded. "That was a whistle, idiot." As he spoke, three lads a little smaller than him, all of different ethnicities, came out from the ruins. In my mind, this was evidently his back-up team. Now I know that one was asian and the other two were black. As it was, they all just looked... Different. It was obvious why they'd been rejected; people saw they were different and got scared. Even I was a little wary, but Sigma indicated to them as he explained, "These are Phi, Chi and Psi. Inventive names, I know, but all the same... Us four are those rats. We steal to survive, and we figured we could let you in on that. After all, you've basically been deserted by your parents. We know how that feels..." His voice broke again. "Family's important, see, and you need one to grow up proper, so we banded together. Here." He conjured up the water from before and threw it to me. Granted, it was noticably lighter, but there was still a decent amount remaining. "Have this and take it back to your little brother. And bring him by some time; we'd like to meet him. What did you say his name was?"

Suddenly, I realised I stood up defensively when they came out. I relaxed my posture and replied, "I didn't. But he... His name's Rho." After saying it, I sat down again and stared at my knees. That was a pretty personal snippet of information I'd just given away, to someone I'd only just met that same day too.

Sigma chuckled, evidently comfortable now. All that fear that had originally been there was gone in the blink of an eye, at the first mention of Rho. "Rho. That's a nice name. Well, you'd best get back. You shouldn't leave him on his own for too long. Come back and visit though; we like new faces." I looked up at him from my knees and saw that they'd sat around him. He had is arm around the smallest of the three. "You and Rho. If you need a family, we're here for you."

Of course, there were others I'd class as my non-related family - after all, our road was pretty tight - but I figured it couldn't hurt, so I nodded. "Rho's gonna love you guys," I muttered, and Sigma laughed, clapping me on the back.

"Welcome to the family, Theta," he told me, then clapped his hands together. "Now jog on back to Rho. We'll always be here. After all, we don't have anywhere else to go."

On that rather depressing note, I left them, glad to have the water and some new people I could go to. Especially someone my age, like Sigma. I hadn't met anybody my age before. In fact, I was so consumed by the idea of a friend my age, I only turned back once, after about 20 paces.

They'd already gone.

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