Under the Rain Shadow

1 year, 1 month ago
7 months, 26 days ago
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Chapter 6
Published 10 months, 19 days ago

Explicit Violence

Perturbed by the lack of any rainfall for months in the Central Grasslands, one conspiracy theorist stormchaser bunny starts to seek the truth for himself.

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Breeding season

"Cold" was the word Gonzo thought best to describe the inside of the fort. Cold air to aid the rooms of sweltering, dusty computer equipment. Cold light causing the concrete walls to glow cold white. Cold to outsiders. Cold to trespassers.

Somehow, despite their unfriendly surroundings and despite his bunny friend's ongoing silent meltdown, Calhoun was as nonchalant and collected as he'd ever been. His hands were stuffed deep into the pockets of his bomber jacket, and as Gonzo's ears twitched anxiously for sound, Calhoun was content with casual glances down hallways. Gonzo couldn't tell if he was truly unafraid, an incredible actor, naïve, suicidal, or any combination of them.

The one concession he gave to caution was in his gait. Calhoun walked with a mild, reserved shuffle, doing his best to keep his hind claws from sounding against the tile floor. Gonzo shuffled quietly along, lagging directly behind him. He wasn't trying to use Calhoun as a shield, but it was his idea, he was taller, and assuming any military personnel made a first move on Calhoun, it'd buy Gonzo time to hide, if not escape.

The two communicated only by quick glances as they slunked through the entrance hallway and hung a right. Under the blanket of the HVAC humming and hissing away in the walls, Calhoun followed the clicks and rumbles of a very many hard drives deeper in. (Gonzo would've been able to hear it if he weren't too busy listening for other people.) They were leading him somewhere, and the end of the hallway, in a small, unoccupied inside room, through a heavy wooden door propped open, he found them.

At first, it looked like a small, dumb computer terminal linked with a hose to a refrigerator sitting next to it. The pulled out chair and papers, stained and crumpled, blanketing the desk suggested someone was working at it. Calhoun approached; Gonzo put his hand out in protest before deflating with the realization that, if he wasn't deterred yet, no pleading could stop him now.

Instead, Calhoun leaned over the desk, squinting deep into the monitor to discern the strings of shell text glowing white across it. His focus melted as he made sense of them. Eyes wide, he held his muzzle to stifle an astonished chuckle, and Gonzo rushed over to the desk to catch a glimpse of what could possibly be humorous in this situation.

They had it wrong. They had the uses for the radar equipment and satellite dishes all wrong. The conspiracies were wrong, the radio folks were wrong, Gonzo was wrong, Calhoun was wrong.

There was no weather control. Fort Garfield was instead being used to control the breeding habits of all the bison in the region. More specifically, the program seemed to be able to send mating signals across several states using the satellite array, creating artificial breeding seasons whenever and wherever in the country the military desired.

"This is what the money's going to," Calhoun said to himself, jaw ajar, the corners of his mouth pulled into an unbelieving half-sneer half-smirk. "This is what this nation's tax dollars are going towards."


"Bison breeding."

Gonzo let the realization wash over him, sinking in slowly but surely as his eyes traced the text. His first thought after the bewilderment wore off was that it was, of course, a good thing that the government wasn't actually toying with the atmosphere with the intent of subjugating its citizens. That relief was short-lived, and his mind started to race with other questions. Less conspiratorial, stranger questions.

For one thing, why would the government need to increase (with no apparent ability to decrease) the population of aroused bison? Why were they able to direct where they went to breed? Most importantly, above all else, if not the satellites, what on earth was causing the droughts?

Calhoun pulled the keyboard closer to him. Odd intents painted his face.

"Wait, Calhoun!" Gonzo whispered loudly, trembling and looking out the door as the keyboard's clacking filled the room.

"Relax. I got an idea." Relaxing was impossible; the best Gonzo could manage was freezing in place, nervously studying his surroundings and glancing behind them for sudden visitors. Through the "refrigerator" door, he noticed horizontal racks of computer internals, RAM chips, and thick cabling bundled together with twist ties that spilled out onto the floor and around back up through the drop ceiling.

One command became two commands became three. Gonzo tilted his head. "Wait, how do you know how to control this thing?"

"Press up. You see the last command. I'm just guessing other than that."

With a small noise and a nod, Gonzo waited as patiently as he could for Calhoun to finish typing. Thankfully, as quick as he started, the coyote stood up straight, stretching. "Logs wiped and all."

"What did you do?"

"Well...I guess it's a good thing after all they had us study coordinates. How many bison would you say there are within a few miles of Remington?"

Gonzo looked confused. "Uh...I dunno, man. We saw two or three herds on the way here?"

"I sent out two blasts directed over the base. The other's in twenty minutes."

Indeed, as they stood talking, violent battering sounds against concrete and brick sounded, shaking the inner walls of the base. From some direction eastward, distress and shouting and calling for backup rang through the hallways. Gonzo could only put his hands over his mouth, shivering in horror. Calhoun, on the other hand, like a hobbyist with toys well above his pay grade, looked far too amused with what was happening.

"Think that's the bison," he rasped, grinning ear to ear.