The noise of the engines gets closer and closer: maybe you would still be in time to escape, but … in fact you doubt. How many hyenas will be out there? How angry? Arms like? No, no, the best thing is closing in. This is a solid bunker, full of stuff. Are you sure that in five you can keep it and cause the assailants enough deaths to make them fall back. Yeah, that’s the best idea.
Not all of your comapions think so: Brandy in particular yells at you that she doesn’t want to die like a mouse in cage, but going out and facing the hyenas with her spear. It’s Beth to calm her down, convincing her to stay in with all of you. The looks between the two girls make you realize that their relationship is far more than two survivors who met by chance.
But now you do not have time to get closer to the relationships between your companions: Saul has already found the best rite position near one of the small windows, and Lance is plowing with all the material available to create something that can give you some advantage , like a bomb or the like. The slaves, terrified and confident that whoever wins for them will go badly, huddled down the bunkers, clinging to each other, groaning and crying on the floor.
Pull out your Shocker. The Prebellum looks at it with an expression of disappointment, shakes his head and gives you something much bigger and heavier: a Centipede Shocker, which he casually held in his backpack, as if it were a trivial piece of iron. Take it up, check the loader: thirty shots. Enough to break some of hyena’s head.
Ask your friend why don’t use him the Centipede, but the only answer you get is a sarcastic laugh.
– I don’t use this shit, my friend!
And he pulls out a small crossbow with metal darts.
The vehicles are closer, then stop suddenly. They came. it counts a dozen, a worrying number but not impossible to control with this defense. No one shows the command marks, so suppose Dieter was the boss in the area. One of them, however, probably the most enterprising or thirsty power, takes the initiative: from under the saddle he extracts an object that he does not recognize, a sort of metallic cone, and brings it to his mouth: when he speaks, his voice is deafening.
– You have violated the Peace of the hyena! This will not be tolerated. Arise now and live as slaves. Fight, and you will all be killed after much, very much pain.
Beth answers for everyone: a blast of extremely precise Shocker shots overwhelms the body of the first hyena: three shots, all three on the skull. The third reward the shooter with a satisfying CRACK, meaning that the impact was too much for his tattooed head.
The others are attacking: protected by rusty armor, many with a helmet, all armed to their teeth, face the storm of blows you shoot without suffering great losses: you notice with sorrow that many have learned how to absorb the blows of your weapons, a couple have even small shields to protect themselves. However, Saul and Beth are monstrous shooters, real aces with the Shockers, and some hyenas falls to the ground with damages you hope they will not rise anymore.
But the others come, and they start to break. You have strengthened the door to the best and best, but any lock originally protected the bunker has been devastated by the time and the ease with which Lance has entered show only that it’s a matter of time before they will be in the bunker.
– We can’t.
It is not a question that Saul addresses to anyone in particular. The monk just knows you will die, the numbers are overwhelming and inevitable. You know it too. Only Brandy seems calm, as if death was a mere inconvenience.
You prepare. The shots of the hyenas are getting stronger, and take up the shockers, almost unloaded, ready to splatter them on the head.
You’re so tense that you don’t notice Saul’s hand on your shoulder. When it comes to you, the Adept smiles.
– It has been a pleasure to meet you.
It all happens in a moment. The door opens. Hyena’s children, furious, pounce themselves on you. Saul run against them, waving something in his hand … it seems … just …
The explosion almost makes you deaf and the lightning blinds you. Blood and meat sprinkled everywhere, while a thick smoke and a terrible smell wrap the air.
– that crazy … where he found … that …
Lance can’t talk, shocked by cough and adrenaline. You understand that your friend’s sacrifice will be useless if you don’t hurry up: you take the Prebellum on your shoulder and make a signal to the girls to go out, taking advantage of the confusion.
Outside is panic: hyenas are running, but they are shaken and confused, afraid that you might have other grenades. Take advantage of it and run the parked motorbikes, support Lance behind you and the get on the power: the girls do the same.
You’re almost screaming victory. ALMOST. Then you hear Brandy scream and point you in her direction: one of the bastards has launched something. A knife. You hear her barking and holding her side, but Beth doesn’t mind slowing down: you will look after your companion when you will be safe.
Run for more than an hour before you start persuading you to have it done. No one follows you, the bush slopes and in front of you, in the distance, you start to see a collection of houses and factories. Quietly do all the same question: is that, Rad City? Have you come to the long-awaited destination?
You stop and get off the bike: the situation is not the best. Brandy’s wound is deep and bleeds again, and all you can do is hold it tight using dirty wraps. Never like now you would have had Dommie with you, but the thought of the dead A-doctor with tapes in his throat is not of any comfort.
Beth, rational and experienced Beth, is going to panic: it keeps drying the companion’s sweaty forehead and try to murmur comfort words, but it’s clear she fears the worst: none of you have medicines, all finished during your desperate march.
Lance is about to convince himself to operate urgently, closing the wound with of the electric cable to keep your companion alive during the last stretch, when you see someone approaching: still far in the woods but approaching. A small caravan of people, six or seven in all, one of which brings a symbol that you recognize instantly: the Flame of the Inner self combustion.
However, as opposed to the flamboyant pretentious priests you’ve met this looks dressed in a much simpler way, as a normal resident of the Vastness. The others wear light but solid armor, adorned with the symbol of something you think is an animal you’ve never seen: a kind of red dog head. Two of them carry a cart loaded with disparate material, including suitcases, crates, and a pair of stitches with two chickens stinging, while the rest are holding long-range Shockers and watching around.
-Merchants, – Lance says.
-Militia … the scum of ours – adds Beth.
– I’m talking with them, – says the Prebellum, – they may have antibiotics! We can find something to cure Brandy!
But your friend doesn’t seem to agree.
– Those don’t want to trade, they want to kill us, I tell you. Better to attack … we kill them and take the stuff.
Lance and Beth look at you, while Brandy continues to groan.
TO THE NEXT CHAPTER