Star Date: 2316
Gravity rating: 1.25 of Earth
From atop the hill overlooking the ruins of the Naiad city , Sergeants Wilner and Clines sat exhausted with their backs against the large boulder while Roxy and Cali planned their next move. Roxy wanted to split up the group to make it harder for the military to find them—easier to hide two than four. Cali grumbled about it but agreed. From their vantage point they could see a handful of the streets in the city were clear while the others were clogged with rubble or trash; they couldn't tell yet.
They took Clines and Wilner into the city. Cali didn't want any harm to come to them after they parted ways. Roxy's motivation was simple: she didn't want Cali to worry.
It had passed midday, but the heat from the terra formed moon was still beating down on them. Clines and Wilner struggled in it. Cali nearly dragged Clines the last bit down the hill.
Navigating through the streets became more difficult as they edged into the city, but it made for better cover. Debris was strewn everywhere: broken furniture, hollowed out vehicles, workers huts missing their doors, heaps of paper, two downed hovercopters, broken glass. Cali searched the vehicles along the way until she found one containing a mini map and pocketed it. The volume of spears, arrows and other weapons littering the ground was the most unsettling thing about the city—some were rusted through and some hardly tarnished. Whatever the two peoples of the Colony were fighting over was still an ongoing issue. It did not comfort them.
The streets directly ahead of them contained the most structurally intact buildings that remained. Shadows flitted in front of the windows. The streets were quiet. Roxy stopped the group. It didn't feel right.
Cali looked to her, seeming to understand. "How do we know they're not already here?" She was terrified of the workers, ugly beasts hardly human any longer.
Roxy nodded. She remembered that her Marines had had bases all over the place. She could only imagine if any were left now.
They backtracked and swept silently through the city, searching for a place to take shelter. Entire blocks were piles of cement and brick. Freestanding doorways led to nowhere. A sand-worn backhoe sat useless in the middle of the street, the articulated arm having fallen off. In her previous life, Roxy had seen these used as excavators during rescue efforts. With only one in use to dig people free, the death toll must have been high.
They found a concrete pad over the basement of a blown out workers industrial building. It wasn't sealed, and a jagged gap in the cement was large enough to crawl through. Roxy knelt and listened. She stuck her head in the gap quickly, leaving it only long enough to sense if there was someone inside.
Cali tried to stop her. "Roxy, I'll look. I—"
Roxy got to her feet, hands going automatically to her hips. She quirked a brow at Cali.
"My mistake. Of course you can see in the dark." Cali feigned exasperation, but a small smile crept through.
Declaring the basement empty of their enemy, Roxy went down first to get a better look. Pipes ran the length of the ceiling on two sides. Supporting beams were scattered throughout. Situated against opposite walls stood a series of cement archways holding latched wooden doors.
She climbed back out, tossing a few dead rats out ahead of her. Clines leapt backward with a disgusted noise, nearly falling over. Cali pressed her lips tight, trying to contain her laughter. Smirking, Roxy watched Cali struggle until she faked a cough, covering her grin with one hand.
One at a time they dropped down into the basement. Roxy pried the latches off two of the doors that led into brick-lined storage spaces. As she pulled the first door open, the infuriated squeak of old hinges echoed through the room. Wilner and Clines were positioned in the space furthest from the elements, while Roxy chose a space for her and Cali close to the opening.
Cali offered to be the lookout while Roxy slept. She needed the sleep less. Roxy wasn't convinced. "You're injured."
Cali frowned. "I'm fine."
"I doubt that." She had seen the way Cali favored one side.
Cali's face softened. "Really I'm fine."
Roxy rolled her eyes and didn't answer; there was no need to.
Cali looked pleased with herself, which Roxy found both irritating and endearing. Cali pulled a crate under the opening and sat down. The wince she tried to hide did not escape Roxy's notice, but she kept quiet. Roxy passed her a bow and quiver before dropping a blanket near Cali's feet. She crouched down, rolling onto her back, and positioned it beneath her head. Cali glanced down, brow furrowed. "You don't trust me?"
Roxy shook her head. "I like it here." She couldn't articulate that she didn't want to sleep in a cold corner by herself again, how Cali's presence comforted her.
Hours later, Roxy woke up and decided to investigate the surrounding area. After sunset, the temperature dropped and their temporary home grew cold, likely too cold for Clines and Wilner to survive there very long. Cali protested. Roxy insisted she keep watch because Wilner and Clines were in no shape to do anything but sleep.
"I won't be gone long." Roxy pulled herself up through the opening, effortless, before the argument started again.
It was a trap, as simple as that, the immense explosion that threw Roxy to the ground only seconds after she had climbed out of their shelter told her as much. The workers, or Wolga as they were known locally often used crude explosives in the past to clear land or bring down trees and now they had used it to good effect.
Without a trace of emotion, Roxy knew it was pointless in going back…her comrades would never have survived that inferno and she knew what she had to do. Survive. One by one, over the next three weeks, she took the lives of every worker she found, callously and without remorse. It wasn't easy, or a matter of hiding and filling their ugly brutish bodies with arrows, or taking them from behind with a knife to the throat. Several times she was caught in skirmish and twice she was wounded with one of their horrid spears. On the last day of this carnage, Roxy had managed to get as far as the thick forests on the outskirts of the old city; she found herself taking refuge in the two hundred year old hulk of the Othalla, the ship that had brought their ancestors here under the control of the Naiad. There she tended her wounds and ate some of her rations, if she were to survive, Roxy had to find a way of this rock. But how? The Naiad had left before she was even born and she knew they left barely a trace of their technology behind. Thoughts of Cali still plagued her though, in the short time they had been on the run together, they had grown close, possibly too close.
After a day spent repairing her microweave armor, gathering what she could use and discarding what she didn't need, Roxy set about exploring the old hulk. To her surprise, once she ventured deeper into the vessel, buried in the forest as it was, she found it remarkably in reasonable condition. Two levels below the surface, there was no corrosion, it was free of any animal evidence and dry. At least she'd have a home base for a while.
The story went, possibly created by the Naiad that the old ship was contaminated and that it was totally off limits. To that point, they had set traps and other devices around it, but those had decayed long ago in the steamy conditions of the forest. Yet no one in all these years sought to question it, and simply dismissed it as a relic of the past. Now that she was here though, Roxy was intrigued and she probed ever deeper still until at last she reached the section that would have been the bridge. Her eyes were wide at what she saw, such marvels that had been denied her people by their enslavers all these years and to think, he own ancestors built this.
Finally she needed rest again, it had been a long time since she had slept, so with that in mind she made her way to what was definitely a comfortable chair (possibly the ship's captain's), settled in and curled up.
In her sleep she dreamed horrid things of the past, her body wrestled to stay still and at one point, her hand flung to the side landed on a control device which had the effect of some lighting being illuminated. She slept still, unaware that the device she had inadvertently turned on was the ships emergency beacon. Still operative after all these centuries.
"Death is lighter than a feather, but Duty is heavier than a mountain." Roxy said aloud, knowing full well only the ghosts of the dead could hear her now. It was the motto of her unit, one passed down through the ages so it was said; yet she had an inkling it came from some literature of the old Earth her tutors spoke about in secret. It was talk forbidden by the Niaid under penalty of death, their version was that Roxy's people were created by them, to serve them and nothing else. She knew that was trash, everyone did.
She had hunted, eaten and eaten well especially after finding a bakery that only a day ago had been fully operational and some of the pies were still warm. The game she shot, well it was game as always and not the best eaten raw. So, now here she was on a ridge as the night became pitch, looking down on the glittering mass of the junkyard. Slowly she made her way down, what she would find only time would tell. "Cali you were right, we were in love and now you're gone. Left alone to embrace my own death when it comes."
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