Tharin’s group had spent the last week moving from town to town making their way westward all the way from Red Army territory and into Blue Army controlled sectors. Each safehouse they stayed at they would change up what vehicles they took. They left the Qoppa house in a sedan and had switched up between vans and trucks along the way. Dusk had fallen as the group settled at the base of the eastern mountains in Omegrad. Tharin pulled their van into a dingey motel on the outskirts of a town. The group stepped out to stretch and looked out over the Holy City in the distance, watching the lights along the horizon before checking in. Tharin had got them each their own room, a small treat for spending so much time cooped up all together.
“You sure it’s a good idea to skip on the safehouses?” Martin asked as he took his room key. He picked up a duffel bag of stuff he had collected from the various safehouses and slung it over his shoulder.
“Absolutely, Omegrad’s the safest place for us to be in right now,” Tharin replied as he handed the other two their keys. Both Dante and Max left for their own rooms, Dante stopping at a vending machine further down to pick up some snacks, “There are plenty of people I know who can give us some shelter and there’s always a priest whose pocket can be lined, if you know where to look.”
“Yeah I know that; I grew up around these parts,” Martin replied as he turned to talk to Tharin, “I’m just hopin’ that I don’t get seen here… it uh… could cause some problems.” Tharin nodded and thought about it for a moment.
“That’s a good point,” Tharin said back as he unlocked his door and tossed his bag inside, “I’ll make some changes to our route to keep us away from any prying eyes.” Tharin stepped into his room and locked the door as Martin stood before rolling his eyes and walking to his own room. Tharin walked up to his motel bed and collapsed onto it. The bedding smelled stale like it had been washed a few too many times, but anything was better than the single cots the group had been bunking on for the last week. He splayed himself out and stared up at the old ceiling of the motel room. A single overhead light sat just above his view. One of the bulbs was burned out and the other looked like it wasn’t the correct wattage, leaving the room dimmer than normal. All of it was contrasted by the bright, red EXIT sign that hung over the door outside. The red light from the sign crept into the room and mixed with the warm lightbulb. Tharin reached up and covered his face with his hands, rubbing his snout down to the tip of his nose. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before standing up and walking to the bathroom. He turned the sink on and sat in front of the mirror, staring at himself. He looked carefully over his dark brown fur and deep green eyes. He ran his hand under the sink and splashed some water into his face before pulling his hand through his long mane. His locks fell down to the sides of his head and crested inward at his hairline. He hung his head down low and turned the water off before climbing into the bathtub and turning the faucet on. Tharin flipped the showerhead on and let the cold water wash over his back. He sat up and let the water run down from his face across his chest and down past his belly before leaning his head back against the wall behind him, slumped in the curve of the tub. He closed his eyes and began to nod off as the water started to warm up, the cold water left sitting in the pipes having been flushed out. The bathroom began to fill with steam to the point where the door out wasn’t even visible anymore.
A knock at the door caused his eyes to shoot open. Tharin looked up and turned the water off before climbing up out of the bathtub. The knocking continued and it sounded like Max was standing at the door calling for Tharin. He rubbed his head and walked up to the front door, dripping and soaking the old, stained carpet. He unlocked and opened the door to find his three subordinates standing there.
“Aw geezus, what the fuck dude?” Max said upon seeing Tharin. He stood there naked and disheveled. Maxine covered her eyes and looked away as the other two did the same. Dante and Martin stepped away from the door. Tharin looked out into the deep, night sky behind Max, “We’ve been waiting here for like thirteen hours now. When are we leaving?”
“Morning,” Tharin said before turning back around. He shut the door with his tail, leaving the three outside alone.
“What are we gonna’ eat?” Martin asked, walking up to the door. A few seconds later it cracked open and Tharin’s wallet flew out before the door shut again. The three looked at each other before walking back to Max’s room. They walked in and shut the door as Max took the phone and a small card left on one of the nightstands. It had numbers for all kinds of local delivery services. She dialed in the number for a pizza place and began ordering. They all decided on two large pizzas and waited for the delivery.
“So, what are you gonna’ do when this is all over?” Max asked the others as she sat on her bedside and turned the TV volume down.
“I’m probably going back to Honkalwood,” Dante replied as he took a seat in one of the desk chairs, “I’ve got some family living there at the docks who can probably get me a job.”
“What did you do before you got locked up?” Martin asked.
“I was in the Red Army, got court marshalled for going AWOL and sent up to Sampi,” Dante replied as he leaned back in his chair, “Family knew I fled but they never found out I was caught. I bet they’ll be pretty surprised when I show back up.” Dante chuckled to himself as he looked at Martin, “What about you? Got any plans for when this is through?”
“Eh I’ve got a couple,” he said shrugging, “I used to live in the Holy Capital, and I definitely got run outa’ that place. I used to run with some hoops back in th’ day. They the fuckers that ratted me out to the House, so I’m definitely not showin’ my face around there anymore. You got any plans, Max?” Martin asked.
“I got a couple. My son lives back in Honkalwood, I might pay him a visit,” she said before staring down a bit, “I kinda just left him there. Not a day has gone by since we left that I haven’t thought about seeing him again. I just don’t know what he’d think of me.”
“I’m sure he’ll be glad to have his mom back,” Dante replied. He got up and put his hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him and smiled a bit as there was a knock at the door. All three turned as Max got up and went to the door. She checked the peep-hole and saw the pizza guy waiting. She waved the other two back out of the way and opened the door to accept the pizza. She dug through Tharin’s wallet and handed the delivery kid some cash before slamming the door back in his face. She dropped the pies on the desk and opened them up as everyone took a slice. Martin set his back down in the box and left the room. The others watched him leave but shrugged and went back to eating, happy to have something other than canned garbage. Martin walked out down the outside hallway to Tharin’s room. He knocked on the door a couple times and found that it was never shut all the way. He stepped inside and looked around a bit.
“Hey, Tharin, we ordered some pizza if you want an-” he said before spotting Tharin laying on the bed face down and passed out. The blankets were soaked as he never dried himself off. Martin stepped back out of the room and shut the door all the way and returned to the others and his long awaited dinner.