A trio of soldiers.
“Well, there you go. That’s Goorm, Una and that other guy, what was his name?” said one of the trio, kicking the burning carcass of Una while snapping his fingers near his head, trying to recall the name of the Marauder I had killed back at the church. A long scar bisected this dudes face, each half uglier than the other. He had a beard, thick and black, tied at the end like a pony-tail.
“Don’t matter now. He’s deader than a door nail.” Said his associate, whom had a single face tattoo- of a white skull- over his entire face.
“No shit Stewart. Damn fires still hot. He got to be close,” said another member of the trio, by their deference to him I would guess he was the leader and he was one heck of a big ugly. He stood over seven feet, at least three hundred pounds of solid, stone chiseled muscle from stern to stem. His color was white as a sheet of paper and on his face, a mirthless grin wider than the Sharks, but with more teeth. And the teeth were white as his body, each filed razor sharp, like sharpened knives used for skinning meat. Pointed ears like a were wolf and eyes red as the sun.
“What the fuck are you?” I said to the air. But I already knew. White-Tartari. Never seen one come out during the day like this, at least not full grown, in many years. It hit me again how much the world had changed. Back in civilization, or what passed for it, no way a full grown White Tartari male would ever be allowed to reach maturation like this. They would be hunted and X-terminated well before this point. And I say male Tartari like there were any other kind, there weren’t, female Tartari didn’t exist.
“I smell him Lieutenant he is close,” the White Tartari said to skull-faced tattoo’d solider. Then the Tartari turned and looked in my general direction, he pointed toward my hide-out. “He is there. In the Enclaves, where the X-terminators drove my people all those years ago. They made them live in caves, under rocks, foraging for food like animals. That is where he must be.” The Tartaris voice was deep, guttural, like what a big heavy dog might sound like trying to speak.
“Maybe. But there is no way for him to get there, not from here, and certainly not on foot. We have mines all around that zone, no one gets in or out without our authorization,” Skull Face said to him.
The Tartari turned to stare into the eyes of the man. “I don’t know how he did it, but he did it. I can smell his fear.”
“Well, be that as it may, we can’t ask the platoon to invade that territory without permission.”
“Says who Lieutenant?”
“The Overlords. They gave us specific instructions. Only to the edge of the Wasted Waze, not further and only to the periphery of the L.O.D. no further. That was the mission guideline, recon and intel, no engagement. Anything more and the natives may get restless. Sir.”
The Tartari held a seven-foot long, two handled sword, with a double gilded serrated edge. “Hmm. You’re a good dog, aren’t you Lt. Stewart?”
“No sir. I’m not a dog. I am just following orders.”
“That’s what good dogs do lieutenant. They follow orders without question.”
“Sir, all due respect. We all follow orders. Without disciple there would be chaos.”
“Chaos? You speak to me of chaos Lt.Stewart? Aka Skull Face. Here in the middle of the fucking Apocalypse? There is nothing here but chaos soldier.”
“Which is why it is so important that we follow orders, sir. We can’t penetrate the L.O.D without permission.”
“And you soldier? What do you say?”
The third soldier looked despondent, but he had a resigned look as if he had been through this many times before.
“Ah follow orders Lord Amalek. We stop der choas. We make enemies der bleedin’. Dar is why I am here, dar is nuff fo me.”
The Tartari three back his head a roared a laugh. “Fucking ritualistic humans. Wow. Good. Good. Yes, Lt. Niles, you are right. Make them bleed is right.”
Lt. Stewart spoke up. “He could be dead. The radiation alone should have killed him.”
“When was the last time radiation killed anybody Lieutenant? If radiation and pollution killed humans 300 billion of them wouldn’t have left this planet thirty years ago, because they would have already been dead.” Amalek answered.
“Yes, but that is just background ambient radiation. This is primary point-blank radioactive material,” Stewart replied.
“Yes. Butt Stewart, Der blaze waz ‘ack dere an we ar’ e’re. Ee’e must’ve made it dis far at least.” Niles replied.
“Una cut him, so he’s hurt, bleeding. He can’t last long out there, we just need to wait, ne patient,” Stewart replied.
Amalek ignored his lieutenant. He began to sniff with that long awkward nose of his. He walked around the camp a few times, almost retracing the steps I had made with the witch. He came to a stop at my log, where I had planted the bug. He reached down, grabbed my lenses, he laughed. “Well, well well.” He smirked at Stewart who seemed crestfallen, “Wouldn’t make it far out there huh? Not a threat, huh? Is he alive? Dead people don’t leave A.V. bugs Stewart. He’s been spying on us the whole time, while you’ve been squawking out-loud, spilling our security details like a virgin in a whore domicile. Who’s side you on Stewart? More concerned about the Overlords then you are about your own brothers in arms, out here in the field, heh? Or what about the dead heroes laying back there in that church, heh? You care about them enough to hunt this bastard down?” The soldiers in the Caravan heard their commanders every word. Snickers and laughs tumbled down Stewarts head. Stewart said nothing, but the humiliation was plain on his face. Amalek turned his gaze back to me, looking into the bug’s lenses.
“Hello there, dead man. Fancy trick. I think I’ll eat your face…last.” He clenched his fist, the bug cracked, the feed went dark.