We had been walking for what felt like hours. A red dust storm had blown through. Crimson dust clouds hundreds of feet high with zero visibility. The red storms came and went suddenly and there was no way to predict them or how long they would last. We simply kept moving forward. The hundred kilo-meter an hour winds ripped the dust into my skin like I was meat being salted by a chef. The dust went into my skin, down my pants, stuffing my throat. Yet we persisted. If you kept your head about you, most of the storms did not have to be deadly.
“I see something.” I told Chirpy after the storm began to blow past. I put on my goggles. Many miles east, what looked like a giant black shark, standing on two legs.
“The Artificial Regional Geothermal Oxygenating Life Supporting Enclave. A-R-G-O. We found it Chirp. We’re almost home.”
And home was on fire.
Even from where I stood I could see the flames, roaring out from the top of the building, burning jets of orange and red twenty stories high. Not entirely unexpected.
“It’s people,” I told Chirp, “Someone, a scavenger or a wanderer looking for refuge, maybe a refugee looking for spare parts, inevitably confuses some power coupling with a power singlet. Or could be the scavenger make a fire that gets out of control, or of course, a fight breaks out. That much space, with no maintenance crews, no fire brigades and no X-terminators there to police the mayhem? Something is always bound to get fucked up.” Chirpy made no sound inside my belt, but I knew he had heard me.
Next to the Aeronaut Argophobic should have been its sister, the Esoteria Argophobic. My girls were in the Esoteria, Ardis and Aicinert. They were gone now too, off into space with the rest of the denizens of Esoteria, along with most of the people of Earth. Now they were all Outworlders. And we, the abandoned one tenth of one percent, all that remained.
“Well Chirp-Chirp. Let’s go see if anyone is home, heh before the coming of Dark?”