“That’s enough out of you, worm!” A sharp sting burned Lanz's cheek as a trimmed fingernail the size of his head catapulted against his face. His head knocked back into the metal wall behind him, and a drop of blood trailed out from his nose.
“Don't go too hard on him, Miriam,” a soldier sitting across from Lanz said smirking. “Our orders are to bring him in alive, and you know how delicate these things can be.” Lanz's wrists were handcuffed behind his back to the bench he sat on. Miriam Silvers, the woman who flicked him, towered over his miniature frame, adorned in army fatigues and a resting scowl. A green, brimmed cap hid most of her short, black hair.
“That’s ‘Corporal’ to you, Private,” Miriam chided. They were on a C-46 Commando, a cargo and personnel transport plane, headed for a military base off the coast of the larger soldiers’ nation of Baltzimar. There were five people on board: the pilot and co-pilot, the corporal and private, and the prisoner.
“Why does he get special treatment anyway?” the co-pilot asked from the cockpit. “We must've captured at least thirty tinies from that outpost. Why didn't we just ship him off with the rest of his kind?”
“That's classified,” the private answered. “Direct orders straight from the top. Higher ups want our little sergeant here at Fort McKinley’s for questioning.” He leaned back and took a puff of his cigar. "Hogwash if you ask me. I think General Silvers cobbled together this mission to make his daughter feel special.” Miriam turned and sneered at him, her thick eyebrows quivering with pent up anger. The soldiers snickered at her; the corporal was used to disrespect from her peers, whether they were her superiors or her subordinates, and the regularity of their insults did nothing but stoke the burning rage within her. She bent down and primed her middle finger behind her thumb, releasing it in another flick to her prisoner’s bruised face.
“Expect another one of those every time these morons piss me off,” she berated. “If you die, it’s their fault.” She was glad to have been born as tall as she was; the tiny soldiers of the enemy nation made for great stress relievers. Lanz sat in stoic silence. There was little chance for escape so high in the air. It’s not like they’d have any parachutes that would fit him. All he could do was wait and see how things played out. Miriam turned to face the front of the plane. “Muller, what's the holdup?” she called out to the pilot. “We should have arrived at base by now.”
“It's all these damn storms! This is the third detour I've had to make.” The soldiers could hear the thunder pass by them. It was so loud that it was indistinguishable from mortar blasts, and the plane’s interior quaked from the turbulence. Everyone was tense, even if they didn’t show it, their war-weary bodies unable to distinguish the weather from combat, especially when the lightning hit.
A thunderous roar echoed through the cargo hold. The plane shook violently, sending Miriam tumbling backwards onto the bench Lanz was bound too. Her lower back smushed the tiny’s lower half into the seat, cramping his legs and pressing his handcuffs against the back of his waist. The woman’s immense weight was supported in part by the bench, meaning it wasn’t enough to break the tiny’s bones, but she was still far too heavy for him to lift, even if her weren’t bound. Lanz squirmed beneath her, his head free and his chest pinned to the wall behind him, but his efforts to free himself were in vain. Miriam tried to recenter herself, but the plane was shaking so violently, she couldn’t pull herself up off the bench.
“The left wing’s been hit! I can’t keep her steady!” The pilot shouted.
“Is it the enemy!?” the private asked, hanging onto his seat for dear life.
“No, we’ve been struck by lightning!” the co-pilot determined. “Fuck! We’re losing altitude!”
Another explosion ripped through the plane, most of its left wing gone. “We lost the left engine! We’re going down!” The plane careened to its left, the pilot losing full control of the aircraft. The plane was shaking so much that it felt like it was coming apart at the seams. By this point, there was nothing anyone could do but pray. The private’s cigar fell from his mouth, landing on his lap and burning his thigh.
“Agh!” He jumped up and was immediately sent tumbling to the back of the plane, his body rising to the ceiling as the plane descended rapidly. Miriam grabbed onto the bench tightly, wrapping her right arm and leg underneath it to stay grounded. Lanz was still sandwiched beneath her. The sounds of thunder were drowned out by the group’s screaming. The pilot held tightly onto the yoke, desperate to regain even the smallest semblance of control, but it was all hopeless.
“Mayday! Mayday!” the co-pilot screamed into the radio, as if whoever was on the other line could offer any assistance. Not that it mattered; the storm blocked the radio’s signal anyway. Then suddenly, it stopped. All went silent. The plane’s cockpit crumpled like a can of soda, the control center exploded, and the resulting shockwave deafened Lanz and Miriam, knocking the two unconscious. Total black out.
The war between Baltzimar and the United Federation of Fidelphi had been going on for fifteen years, though tensions between the two countries had been straddling the breaking point for half a century. Each country existed as the sole sovereignty on its own continent. The two continents ran parallel to each other with a vast oceanic straight separating the two; ancient cultures believed the continents were once one, cut into two by an angry god. The most notable feature of each country was the size of its people. Citizens of Baltzimar, colloquially referred to as bigs or giants, stood roughly five to six feet tall, while their Fidelphian counterparts, known throughout the world as tinies, were only five to six inches in height.
Attending a social studies class in either country would give one a wildly different account of how the war started. The basic facts were that each country had a strong desire to conquer the other’s land and assert control over its population and resources. Neither country had any outside allies; the continents were isolated from the rest of the world by wide stretches of ocean, and while trade with foreign powers was still open for both sides, the neutral countries, populated by bigs and tinies alike, refused to take part in what was seen as a needless power struggle. As it stood, most infantrymen were too young to understand why the fighting began, and absolutely no one could be sure how long it would last.
Miriam woke up, her head pounding as she felt her warm, wet blood seep from her forehead. She was still on the bench, the plane around her in disarray but still mostly held together. The cockpit and much of the front was beyond recognition, but the back half still mostly stood. Clutching her head, she sat up, finally freeing the tiny beneath her from her inadvertent hold on him. His head leaned back against the wall, and his eyes were closed. Like her, he had short black hair. He was wearing a white army uniform typical of Fidelphian ground forces; the emblem on his sleeve identified him as a master sergeant.
Miriam pinched the tiny's neck, feeling his slight pulse beating against her fingertips. Good, he's alive, she thought. She was relieved she wouldn't have to explain that he was crushed under the weight of her ass in her mission report. Standing up and looking around the aircraft, it was clear that her compatriots weren't so lucky. What remained of the pilot and co-pilot's corpses lay in burnt pieces around where the cockpit once stood. Miriam walked to the back of the plane where her subordinate's body lay, the back of his head cracked open and drained of blood. Though she didn't care for these people, Miriam mourned the loss of her comrades, saying a quick prayer in their honor.
Miriam opened the plane's hatch, the damaged door falling off its hinges, and stepped outside onto the sand. The plane had crashed onto a beach, an island from the look of it, and if it weren't for the massive boulder in its path, the pilot may have made a successful emergency landing. The sky was clear and blue, showing no signs of the storm that downed them. We must've been out all night, she thought, remembering her captive was still breathing inside the plane.
Miriam returned to grab him, the tiny still unconscious where she left him. She fumbled through the plane’s compartments until she found a small rope, cutting off a length of it with the knife she had strapped to her leg. After unlocking the tiny soldier's cuffs, she grabbed him in her hand like a doll. He felt tougher than he looked, his well-honed muscles lying dormant beneath his uniform. She tied the rope around most of his body, knotting it in the back, binding his arms and legs. She then stuffed him in her pants pocket, so that she could scrounge around the wreckage.
Lanz awoke to a sharp pain in his head and tight feeling around his chest and legs. His legs were sore from the weight he had to endure, and to make matters worse, he now found himself cramped in a cloth pocket, his body folded in a U shape along the bottom. He could feel his captor's sturdy thigh rub up against him as she walked. Sunlight poured in from the pocket's opening, beckoning the tiny to escape. He squirmed fervently in an attempt to crawl out of the pocket, but he accomplished little more than banging himself against the brick wall of Miriam's thigh. Moments later, the few rays of sun bequeathed to him vanished, blocked out by a long set of fingers reaching in for him.
“Quit squirming!” Miriam shouted, holding Lanz up to her face. He didn't listen.
“Let me go!” Lanz wriggled around within her grip, but the woman greatly overpowered him.
“Sure thing,” she scoffed. Lanz felt the wind rush through his short hair as he fell five feet into the sand below. He writhed against the ground trying to crawl away from his captor, but he got as far as a centimeter as his body flailed against the grains of sand. Miriam squatted over him, a devious smirk adorned her looming face. “Anything else I can do for you?”
“Untie me!” His view of her was eclipsed by her booted foot crashing down on top of him. Her foot dwarfed the five-inch man. The thick, rubber sole flattened him into the sand as Miriam applied just a fraction of her incredible weight onto the tiny.
“Listen up, because I'm not going to repeat myself,” she commanded, bent down on one knee so she could see the slither of Lanz’ body still above the surface under her boot. “No matter where we are or what our current situation is, you are still my prisoner. You will follow my command at all times without question. Is that clear?”
“Yes, ma'am,” he grumbled. She ground her boot further into the earth. The overwhelming rubber odor was the only distraction Lanz had from the oppressive force applied to his body.
“Fortunately for you, my orders are to bring you back alive, and I plan on following those orders. But if you give me reason to, I can always report to my superiors that you died in the crash. Do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal,” he grunted, half-buried in the ground with sand pouring into his open mouth. Miriam lifted her boot off him. The black rubber left a stain on his cheek. Lanz looked up at woman towering over him. She had taken off her fatigues’ top, revealing the black tank top she wore underneath. Her shirt was soaked in sweat, plastering it against her rippling abs. Her broad shoulders connected to her bulging biceps; if she wanted to, she could probably squeeze the tiny into pulpy juice with one hand alone. She bent forward and picked the man up. As Miriam lifted him up towards her chest, Lanz realized her boobs were larger than he expected them to be, no longer hidden beneath her fatigues, with her nipples prodding against the thin fabric of her tank top; Miriam was the type of woman who was more comfortable with a gun than a bra.
“I’ve taken stock of our supplies,” Miriam explained, walking along the coast away from the wreckage. She held Lanz at her waist, swinging him back and forth as she fell into the rhythm of her gait. “The radio’s destroyed beyond repair, and that plane isn’t going anywhere. We have ten emergency rations, six flares and one gun to fire them, four M1 rifles, four M1911s including my own,” she placed her hand beside the pistol holstered at her waist, “two M1919A4 machine guns, and enough ammo for all of them to last a month.”
“Hey!” Lanz was getting tired of pendulating. Miriam didn’t bother to notice.
“And we have the weapons we confiscated off of you: the knife and that dinky revolver.”
“Hey!” Lanz head snapped back as Miriam pulled him up to her face.
“What!?” she scowled. A bit of spit flew out of her mouth, spraying the tiny.
“Your boot’s untied,” Lanz advised. She looked down to see he was right.
“Oh… thanks.” Miriam tucked the tiny into her armpit as she knelt down to tie her laces. The pit engulfed the tiny’s torso, her sweat soaking through his rope bindings onto his clothes. Short underarm hairs bristled against his bindings. It had been a full day since she last applied deodorant, and the only reason Lanz wasn’t writhing against his new prison was because of how paralyzing Miriam’s rife B.O. was. Once her boot lace was tied, she stood back up and pulled Lanz from her armpit, getting a whiff of her odor in the process. “Damn, you smell awful.”
“Where are you taking me?” Lanz asked, ignoring her misattributed remark.
“I’m getting a lay of the land. We seem to be on an island, no signs of civilization yet. I can’t trust you on your own, so you’re accompanying me until we’re rescued.” Miriam continued hiking along the coast, hoping to find another landmass, or better yet, a travelling vessel, on the horizon. Lanz attention, on the other hand, turned inland.
“Would you care for a suggestion?” he asked. Miriam cocked an eyebrow which Lanz took as acknowledgement. “See that plateau over there, rising just above the trees?” Miriam turned and saw the large landmass off in the distance. “Climb up there and you’ll have a much better view.” She was hesitant to take the tiny’s advice, but it was a better idea than circling the island.
“Fine.” Miriam carried Lanz across the beach and into the foliage. It was a tropical island, palm trees dotting the forest with the squawks of colorful birds echoing across the land. Even better, the squealing of wild pigs and the chattering of small mammals could be heard as well, meaning fresh food would be easy to come by. The woman walked with her captive until they reached a freshwater spring pouring in from a small waterfall.
“This’ll work as a water source,” Lanz commented, “meaning we won’t have to boil our own. I bet there are more springs like these we could use for bathing and such.” Miriam listened half-heartedly as she dipped her head into the water, parched from all the walking and sweating she did. Water cascaded off the contours of her face as she pulled it out. Though her features were hard and angular, there was a subtle delicateness to her expression accentuated by the running water.
“Want some?” Still holding him, she placed her index finger behind his head and pressed him down into the spring. Water ran up his nose as he tried to raise himself out of the drink, but her finger kept him submerged. Miriam wasn’t trying to torture him, genuinely attempting to assist him while he was bound, but she had no clue how to handle a tiny and basically treated him like a doll. Lanz coughed as he was brought out of the water. “Good to go?”
“Please, untie me,” he begged between coughs. Ignoring his pleas, Miriam continued further inland towards the plateau until she reached her destination.
Miriam approached the jagged cliffside which stretched fifty feet upward. Millennia of coastal winds eroded the rockface, giving it a rough surface with plenty of protrusions and crevices, making it suitable for free climbing. The ground at the base of the cliffside was wet and muddy, still soft from the prior evening’s storm.
"I'll need both hands to scale this," Miriam said, holding Lanz up to her face. The tiny looked down over the edge of her fingers to the deep trench of her cleavage enticing him from below. He unwittingly stared at it for a minute or so before his gaze turned upward towards his captor's irritated glare. "Not in your wildest dreams, lech." She opened her mouth wide and wedged Lans between her teeth, biting down on his rope-bound body like a dog holding a chew toy. Miriam grabbed hold of the jagged rockface and began climbing.
“Why not just put me in your pocket?” he asked.
“I on’t ant ou allin’ out," she muttered, her tongue lodged under his body. Hot, heavy breaths clouded around Lanz as Miriam exerted every muscle to scale the plateau. Lanz’s viewpoint was locked towards her right arm, mesmerized by the flexing bicep holding up her weight. The tiny soldier was no stranger to strong women, but none of the ones he fought alongside could compare to the sheer power Miriam possessed. At full flex, her biceps were the size of a car and were strong enough to flatten an armored truck. He thought about the teeth clenched onto him; it was obvious she wasn’t really biting down, and he was certain she could bite cleanly through bone if she wanted to. Her grunting rang through his ear as she approached the top, and her grip tightened on the tiny the further she exerted herself. Sweat dripped off her cheek onto the back of his head.
After several minutes climbing, Miriam threw her arms over the edge and lifted herself onto the barren plateau, spitting Lanz onto the dirt. She rolled onto her back and caught her breath, the sun still high in the clear, afternoon sky. Lanz laid next to her, waiting for her to get up; there wasn’t much else he could do tied up.
The plateau covered much of the island’s center. It was dry and barren with only a few patches of grass as its only vegetation. Aside from a few eagle nests, the plateau was devoid of fauna. There was a canyon cutting through its center, leading to a large creek flowing below.
Eventually, Miriam got up and grabbed Lanz, looking out over the edge with him to see the entirety of the island. By normal standards, it wasn’t large, big enough to fit a private estate or a small naval outpost. For tinies, it could host a small city, though the island’s distance from all other civilization would mean they’d have zero contact from the outside world. It was clear people of neither size had set foot here, at least not for long. The island was abundant with brilliant, green jungles. Cool, blue springs were dotted across the landscape, flowing into creeks and rivers that spread throughout the island and into the ocean. Tropical birds painted the skies and treetops, boars and pigs trudged along the ground, monkeys and lemurs swung from branches. Compared to the war-torn nations the soldiers hailed from, this was paradise. It was as if they died in the plane crash and ascended into heaven.
Miriam made note of the sun’s position in the sky. “That’s north,” she said, pointing towards the site of the plane crash. “We were flying across Baltzimar’s southern coast, so it must be to the north of us. But, I didn’t know of any island that close south of us.”
“You’re right,” Lanz added. “The climate’s too warm here. I’ll be able to tell our exact position once the stars come out, but we must be a thousand miles out from Baltzimar at least.”
“A thousand!?” Miriam almost dropped her captive. “That’s impossible! Fort McKinley’s only a couple hundred miles to the southeast. How could we have crashed so far off the flightpath?”
“Those must’ve been some wide detours your pilot took,” he asserted. Given what he was hauling, Lanz thought, he was probably given a roundabout flight path to begin with, if Fort McKinley was even their real destination. That storm would’ve only exacerbated his ‘detours.’ “We shouldn’t expect a hasty rescue.”
“Alright,” Miriam said as she wrapped her head around the situation. “Let's return to the crash site. We can set up camp there.” The woman placed her captive in her mouth once again, to Lanz continued annoyance, and lowered herself over the cliff's edge. Scaling down proved to be a bit tougher, having to feel around for suitable footholds. There were a few close calls where her foot slipped or she lost her grip, her bite tightening with every slip up, but before long she was halfway down the cliffside. There was a small hole in the rockface begging to be grabbed onto as Miriam searched for her path down. Gripping down on the edge of the hole, Miriam felt a tingling sensation pattering across the back of her right hand.
Two scorpions, each the size of Lanz's whole body, crawled out from their nest onto her arm, stingers pointed ominously towards the climber. Lanz could feel his captor's breath quicken as she stared wide eyed at the arachnids.
“Don't move,” he cautioned, his voice no louder than a whisper. “Don't startle them, just let them crawl over you.” Miriam tried to heed his advice, but in her nervousness, her sweat soaked palm lost its grip on the edge of the hole. In her panic, she also lost her footing, having to hold herself up with one hand clutched onto a protruding edge. As her right arm fell to her side, one scorpion flung off it, but the other pinched her, holding its target steady as it plunged its stinger into her bicep.
“Ah!” With a jolt, Miriam screamed, dropping Lanz out of her mouth. He fell twenty feet, landing face up in the mud; his bound body was sore, but the soft mud averted any serious injury. Miriam followed shortly after, splashing mud onto the tiny as her massive body collapsed to his side. Vindicated, the scorpion scuttled off in search of a new nest.
“Miriam! Miriam!” Lanz wormed through the mud, squirming onto her arm as she lay still. “Stay with me!”
“Ow.” Miriam stirred a bit. “Fuck me, that hurts.” Leaning over her arm, Lanz noticed the gaping wound on her back. When she fell, her back got caught on a sharp, protruding edge of the rockface which sliced a clean cut up it as she fell. The cut was deep, and blood was spilling out onto her tank top.
“Listen, Miriam, you've got to untie me. We have to address the sting first, then we can worry about your back.”
“Absolutely not!” she cried, looking over her shoulder to Lanz. “You'll just hoof it the moment you're free.”
“We don't have time to argue! If you don't untie me now, that scorpion poison is going to kill you before you even have the chance to bleed out!” Miriam gritted her teeth. She couldn't trust him; she had no reason to. Of course, he'd want her to untie him, so he could run off and leave her to die, enjoying this paradise all to himself while he awaited rescue. But she didn't have a choice. The prick in her arm was starting to numb, and it wouldn't be long before she lost all movement in it.
With the strength she could muster, she reached down to grab the knife strapped to her leg, knocking Lanz off her arm and into the mud as she unsheathed it. She wedged the blade between his chest and the rope and severed his bounds, freeing the tiny at long last.
“Hand me your knife,” Lanz ordered, wasting no time as he approached her wound. Miriam suppressed her judgment and handed him the knife. The seven-inch blade, in conjunction with its handle, dwarfed the tiny, but he managed to wield it by leaning it against his shoulder. Holding it upside down by the blade, Lanz carved a small cut where the scorpion stung her, drawing blood. He tossed the knife aside and pressed his face against the wound, coating himself in blood as he sucked the venom out of her bloodstream.
It took a couple minutes of sucking and spitting, Miriam dumbstruck at the lengths her enemy was going for her, but Lanz managed to get the poison out of her system before it could do any lasting damage. With that job complete, he crawled over her arm and onto her back. The cut laid out before him like a fissure in the earth.
“It's just a flesh wound,” he noted, examining the injury. “There's no major damage to anything beyond the muscle, but the cut's deep. It'll need stitches.” Lanz jumped off her back and started towards the direction they came from. His face and uniform were soaked red in Miriam's blood.
“Wait, you're not going to leave me here, are you?”
“The first aid kit's back at the plane. I'll need it to treat the wound. You'll be fine for a while as long as you don't move.”
“But…” He was already gone, running off towards the beach. Miriam was alone, nothing but searing pain and the squawking of birds to keep her company. Every minute that passed carried Miriam's faith in Lanz with it. She was sure he abandoned her, that he decided saving her wasn't worth the effort or supplies. Twenty minutes passed, and she had half a mind to crawl to the beach, giving that tiny piece of shit what he had coming, even if it killed her. But she waited, blood slowly dribbling from her back, the faintest part of her holding out hope for his return. Her vision grew blurry, her throat parched. It became difficult to perceive everything around her: the palm trees blowing in the wind, the flies clinging to her skin and soaking in her sweat, the taste of the mud that splashed in her mouth, the piercing green eyes staring at her from the bush.
From the bushes in front of her, a black panther crept out, snarling at the injured woman. Miriam stared back, her wound’s bleeding hastening as her heartbeat sped up. Very slowly, she felt around her waist for her handgun, but it wasn’t there. The holster was gone, sitting more than an arm’s reach away in the mud. During the fall, the belt caught on the sharp rock, splitting it apart and sending her gun hurtling out of reach. If it were only a few inches to the left, she could grab it and stop the panther before it struck, but it was so far that by the time it’d take for her to roll over to it, the panther would already be on her.
All she could do was look the predator in the eye, afraid even a sudden glance away would be enough to trigger the animal. This is it, she thought, It’s over. This wasn’t how she thought her life would end. She had a whole life ahead of her. She was going to rise through the ranks, eventually become a general, and earn the admiration of her people. History books would speak of her as a hero, responsible for several strategic victories, and attributed with the accomplishment of triumphing over Fidelphi, ending a war all thought endless. She was to die of old age, comfortably in her bed after a celebrated retirement. If not that, then she would at least be killed honorably on the battlefield, her efforts instrumental in her nation’s inevitable victory. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end, stuck on some island God-knows-where, placing her last hope on her mortal enemy only to be slaughtered by wildlife.
The panther primed to pounce, reeling itself back, head low and hind high. Miriam didn’t waver, afraid that if she closed her eyes, she’d never open them again. But as the panther leapt at her, it winced back as what sounded like a firecracker shot off to Miriam’s left. A small spout of blood leaked from the center of the panther’s right eye. Miriam looked over to the source of the sound.
“.0357 magnum cartridges,” Lanz said with a proud grin. Smoke billowed from the barrel of his Model 27 revolver. “These puppies pack enough punch to tear clean through even your thick skull.” He cocked the hammer and pointed the barrel straight for the big cat’s head. Unable to see from its right eye, the panther hissed and darted back into the bush. Once the fear of death washed away, Miriam noticed the gloves on Lanz hands. While having incredible piercing power, tiny ammunition inflicted notoriously little damage to its target, even with direct hits to vital organs. To compensate, Fidelphi’s military scientists developed a synthetic toxin potent enough to paralyze a giant in extremely small doses. This toxin was then infused into all Fidelphian ammunition during manufacturing, raising their pellets to the devasting power of a giant’s bullet. One shot to an arm or leg was enough to put the limb out of commission, permanently if the wound wasn’t treated fast enough. A direct shot to the heart or brain would shut the organ down, leading to near instant death. Touching the outside casing wasn’t enough, the bullet had to pierce skin to have a real effect, but Fidelphian soldiers grew accustomed to wearing gloves into combat, not caring for the numbing sensation holding the bullets inflicted them with.
“You came back…” Miriam said in disbelief.
“You’re more useful to me alive than dead.” Lanz holstered his gun and trekked over to Miriam. He was pulling a small rope over his shoulder, hoisting a first aid kit the size of a garage. He had removed his uniform coat; like Miriam, he was wearing a black tank top underneath. His arms were covered in scars, both from blades and bullets. The scars ran up his shoulders and peeked out from his shirt, presumably continuing across his torso. His sweat soaked tank top clung to his musculature, and even with his small stature, Miriam could make out the contours of his chiseled abs and toned pecks. He carried a knife with an inch-long blade strapped to his back like a short sword. He unlatched the kit and pulled out antiseptic, sewing string, and a needle.
“That was one hell of a shot,” Miriam commented. Lanz climbed on top of her shoulder, hauling the medical supplies onto her back as he returned to the wound.
“Roll up your shirt.” It annoyed her that he ignored her compliment, but she did as requested. He stepped over her shirt, supplies in his arms, as it rolled up beneath his feet. Crouching down on her tense skin, Lanz dumped half the small bottle of antiseptic onto her cut, sending wincing pain crawling up Miriam’s spine.
“What the fuck!?”
“Sorry, I’m not used to treating wounds this big.” He walked across the wound pouring antiseptic, much to Miriam’s chagrin. Once disinfected, Lanz crouched down at one end of the cut and grabbed the needle and string. The needle was the length of his arm, making it a bit more wieldy for him than if it were to his scale. Compared to the antiseptic, and the wound itself, the prick of the needle wasn’t too bad, Miriam’s toughened body used to such inconsequential pain. Lanz crawled along the length of the cut, Miriam’s blood and sweat covering his knees and shins as he inched forward, sewing the wound shut along the way. A few minutes passed, and he reached the top, cutting the string with his knife and tying it together. It wasn’t his best handy work, but for it being his first time treating a giant, it got the job done. “Alright, you should be good to stand now.”
Lanz leaped off her back and returned the medical supplies to the first aid kit. Miriam slowly got up, clutching her back as she adjusted to the treatment. “Think you can walk back to camp?” Lanz asked.
“Yeah. It stings, but I should be fine.”
“Good, because I can’t carry you.” He closed the first aid kit and grabbed the rope tied to it, ready to haul it back to camp. “Go slow. Once we’ve reached the beach, try not to move too much. The wound should heal in a few days and then we can remove the stitches.” Miriam reached down and grabbed the first aid kit, lifting Lanz into the air and wrapping her free hand around his body.
“I can lift this much at least. I’m not going to wait for you to catch up.” Miriam walked over to her gun and tied the belt around her waist, and then made for the crash site. This time, she held Lanz upward, not swinging him around with her gait.
The sun began its descent past the horizon to the west, the evening sky awash in amber twilight. Stars began popping into view, and even though the sun was still up, a thousand miles out from civilization there were already more stars visible than either soldier knew back home. “I was right. We’re nowhere near Baltzimar, or any country for that matter,” Lanz said, mapping the stars. “This island’s uncharted. Our coordinates don’t match any known landmass. Better yet, we’re in neutral waters, so neither side is going to risk sending a ship this way without good reason.”
“So, we’re not getting rescued is what you’re saying,” Miriam remarked. They were sitting on the beach not far from the wreck. They had just finished eating one of the rations for dinner. Lanz decided they should hunt or fish whenever possible, saving the rations for emergency situations, and since Miriam was in no condition to haul game big enough for her to consume, this was considered one of those situations. “A crack shot and a star gazer. Are all Fidelphi soldiers so well-trained?”
“Not exactly,” he dismissed. She didn’t get why he was so averse to compliments. Darkness encroached the two as the sun continued its descent.
“We might as well turn in for the night. We can formulate a survival plan in the morning.” She glanced over at the tiny seated beside her, specifically at the weapons still on his person. “I’ll be confiscating those for the night.”
“Like hell you will.” Lanz stood up defiantly. “I need these to defend myself, in case a wild animal comes at me in the night.”
“Sleep in the plane, then. You expect me to be able to sleep with you armed like that? I’m not taking the risk of having my throat slit in the night.”
“You can’t be serious. You think I wasted those medical supplies on you just so I could kill you in your sleep?” He had a point, and she knew it. Miriam stood up, hoping her towering figure would remind him of the authority she held over him.
“You tinies are all tricky like that! You don’t fight fair, you’re always lurking in the shadows, setting ambushes, striking when we’re unaware.”
“Right, because you giants fight so honorably with your flamethrowers and your bombing runs.” Tensions rose. Blood boiled. Miriam was sick of being questioned, of being defied. She was sick of not getting the respect she deserved. She drew her gun, pointing the hand cannon straight at her enemy’s puny head.
“You’re my prisoner, and you’ll do as I order! Hand over your weapons and then tie yourself up! Freeing you was a mistake.” Lanz stared down the barrel of the gun, his expression betraying no emotion. He squared his feet and stanced up. His right hand hovered over the holster on his waist. He stood as still as a statue, motionless save for his trigger finger quivering in anticipation.
Miriam looked down the barrel of her gun into the black pits of his eyes. Something in there scared her. They weren’t the eyes of a man, nor where they the eyes of a soldier, nor those of a predator staring down its prey. No, they were the lifeless eyes of a killer, of a steely monster who only felt alive when taking another’s. In a single, smooth motion, Lanz drew his gun from his holster. In the millisecond it took him to draw, Miriam pulled the trigger, her pistol aimed straight for his head.
Her whole life flashed before her eyes. Every mistake and regret flushed through her consciousness. Every happy moment she ever felt bled into her memory.
She pulled the trigger again. Nothing. Her gun clicked, and that was all. Nothing came out of the chamber. Lanz stood before her, utterly unscathed, twirling his revolver with his finger like the fabled gunslingers of yore.
“Your safety’s on,” he pointed out with a cocky smirk. The hollow look in his eyes vanished, returning to normal with frightening ease. His gun spun in his hand like a propellor, and as smoothly as he drew it, Lanz returned the revolver to its holster. Miriam, ashamed and upset, lowered her pistol, slowly returning it to her side. “I’m not asking you to trust me. I trust you as far as I can throw you. But as long as we’re stuck here, we’re both prisoners of this island, and I don’t care what your orders are, we’re both more useful to each other alive than dead.” With his piece said, Lanz turned from her and walked towards the plane.
Miriam sat back down in the sand and stared out into the open ocean. Far past the horizon was her home, her family, her career, everything she had left behind. She hoped Lanz was wrong, that there’d be a Baltzimaran vessel in the morning, ready to pick her up and return her life to her. But her heart accepted the truth, that she was stranded on this island with naught but her enemy.