Chalal IV


hana_icon.gif tamas_icon.gif

With an appearance by:

huruma_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Chalal IV
Synopsis Hebrew. lit. space, void, cavity; connotations of commencement, beginning and of piercing, wounding.

Hana makes a choice. So does her companion.
Date April 10, 2019

The Negev, east of Mitzpe Ramon, Israel

Fingers itch to pull the trigger of a rifle they do not hold. The standalone scope on which her grip clenches instead is the very poorest of substitutes, unfulfilling, unsatisfying.

The coarse rigidity of stone under her arms, under ribs and hips and ankles, is immaterial; so too the sun hanging high behind her, glaring relentlessly down on barren landscape. The only shade to be had is supplied by the length of linen draped across her form, and its cooling effect is negligible. All the more so for how little the heat in Hana Gitelman's blood owes to her environment…

…unless one counts the pickup winding its way up a dry riverbed several hundred feet below and nearly a mile away.

The sun at her back lets Hana observe with impunity, without fear of light glinting from lens, as the two black-robed figures go about their business — business she can only imagine, given that the brunt of it occurs within the mine, but it doesn't take much imagination to fill in that blank. They're here to finish move-out and teardown, now that she's ended whatever last project was being carried out here.

In terms of things to watch, this is at least as boring as drying paint.

The removal of a GPS beacon from its subterranean shelter only adds to her pique, signal released to blare across the landscape, practically shouting in technopathic ears. Having grown accustomed to the digital silence of the surrounding desert, that incessant noise becomes wearing in very short order.

The entity so recently christened T.Amas — re-christened, not that either of them are aware of this fact — considers the situation from its own unique perspective… and decides to make a test of certain suppositions. Take a little risk.

It turns its attention to the beacon, listening directly rather than through Hana's passive perceptions.

Hana's attention sharpens on the truck below, sudden quieting of signal both relief and cause for suspicion. All the more so for the men currently being down in the depths, and for the absence of fadeout that would indicate a dying battery.

It continues to transmit. I am listening to it. T.Amas proceeds to demonstrate as much, withdrawing back into the comfortable confines of its virtual home, letting the clamoring beacon resurface in Hana's digital perception.

That Hana refrains from cursing aloud means little, the book of her awareness being utterly transparent to her companion.

This revelation — the span of its implications — merits a great many curses.

I suspected this yesterday, but now we have confirmation. the entity adds, unfazed by the tenor of its host's thoughts. It is something you should know.

Hana does not reply — not beyond a rumbling growl she cannot be bothered to encode digitally, and indeed has no need to transmit. Ire and a deep distress and an abundance of invective continue to simmer while the woman stares across a landscape she does not actually see, that which had been turned outward now directed inward. Invective, the entity expected, but it finds the direction of her emotions… concerning.

Perhaps it should have performed that test later, rather than sooner.

Fortunately, a welcome distraction soon arrives on the scene: utterly unexpected company.

Utterly unexpected familiar faces.

They shouldn't have been unexpected, really, yet Hana still feels a jolt of adrenaline when Rue and Huruma step out of their vehicle, so far away and yet so very close. Wolfhound belongs halfway around the world, not here, not right on her metaphorical doorstep. She is not prepared for this collision of abstraction with reality.

Confronted, she does nothing to close the distance yet between them, not physically, not digitally.

Hana simply looks on as their approach turns into confrontation, as these people she knows and yet does not know face off with the men they have likewise surprised. Through the scope, she can see the passing of ten years in their appearances, read differences in posture and demeanor, aspects that diverge from such few encounters as she does remember — perhaps especially for Rue. That awareness adds to disjointment, detachment, emotional distance — but does nothing to quench her desire for a rifle, especially not when stone begins to fly.

Not that a rifle would have changed anything — not even her frustration, given the angles.

That it all ends with a cliff crashing down is veritably anticlimactic.

They could help you, T.Amas suggests into the relative stillness after dust settles, as the two women proceed with their quest and enter into what isn't actually a rabbit hole. A statement that brings to the fore what Hana has been trying to ignore ever since the Hounds entered her view. The entity could cajole, argue, persuade, or at least make such attempt; it does not. It does not even offer obvious diffidence. It sends nothing but stark string data, letting Hana read what subtext she will into the words.

She doesn't bother reading any at all. Instead, she stares down at where figures familiar but unfamiliar stood just moments before, no response immediately forthcoming — neither verbalized nor subliminal.


Ignorance and uncertainty gnaw unpleasantly at Hana's gut — Just what happened while she was in enemy hands? Just what is she to do with this lost time, this life she does not remember living? — but it's the lash of memory-that-persists under which her soul bleeds. It always is.

A shtuken nisht in harts.

It's true that she now finds herself disconnected from and adrift in a world profoundly changed from the one she can recall. There is a place for her in this world, a Gitelman-shaped hole gaping open, waiting to be refilled; the two women below are emblematic of that. But to try to fill that hole, here and now…

Wolfhound was born of a decade's experiences: the crucible of war and the crucible of peace that came after, the camaraderie of continued association, the binding forces of vision and mission and teamwork and esprit de corps.

Those experiences are no longer hers.

The woman who lived through those years is not the one lying prone on this ridge.

To now take a leap of faith into that future, when her last clear memory — before yesterday — is one of faith shattered beyond all repair…

No, the only touchstone Hana can be certain of relying upon is herself.

I don't need help.

T.Amas accepts her response with the digital cousin of a sigh — a reaction scrupulously kept to itself. Its own attention lingers on the women in the distance even after they vanish from the scope of sensory input, Hana having slithered back from her perch and dropped below the ridgeline.

She continues to withdraw, physically as well as emotionally, making her way downslope to where a rugged pickup has been parked, the largest of her recent spoils. To her, the subject is closed, the assertion inarguable; her attention has already refocused on the hunt ahead, the enemy on which her sights have been set, the darkly atavistic joy of a challenging pursuit.

The entity cannot say her decision is wrong. Yet it cannot say it is right, either — cannot say that there might be any most-right decision in this circumstance, where the wants and needs and expectations of one do not align with those of others.

It cannot say what decision it would make in her shoes. It cannot even say what decision it will make, what it wants and needs and expects, straddling a figurative fence even as it continues to listen for two particular digital signals long after Hana has driven off down the highway.

What it can do is estimate the choice Hana-Gitelman-that-was would make. It can choose to honor her memory, the memories they no longer hold.

Only time will tell if any of them have made 'right' choices.

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