The low crunch of the corroded gravel under Kai’s combat boots was the only sound that could be heard in the evening gloom. As he made his was through the flat lands surrounding South Port his own senses, and that of his headset readouts, alerting him to any movements, sounds or scents, Kai found himself wondering about the past. Something he, desperately, tried not to do to the point that he would numb his mind with dew-spirits and/or coma-leaf most nights.
Kai wondered if Nebula still remembered him. It had been so long since… well since he had even seen her, let alone speak with her.
His headset sensory beeped alerting Kai to four ravens pecking at an overturned waste unit 34 metres away to his left.
The visual aiming sights in his headset, automatically zeroed in on the undernourished birds and Kai almost felt pity for them but then the growl of his stomach reminded him it had been over twenty-four hours since his last feed. He took aim knowing, instinctively, that he would hit at least three of the creatures. One on the ground and two in the air as they took flight after hearing the first, muffled shot. POP, POP, POP. Sure enough, three of the birds dropped to the ground while the fourth, startled by the low noise but also by his dead comrades, took to flight but then, stupidly, or maybe desperately, fluttered back down to his dead friends to peck at their carcasses. No loyalty in death, Kai thought and smirked to himself. He started to wonder over and considered taking down the last bird who was busily gobbling down gizzards. Suddenly, to his right a loud twisting of metal came to his ears. He dropped to a prone position and took aim only to see one of the machines topple to the ground. It was only a mid-sized one. From memory, Kai believed, it was an old Soviet Mk III model of an SPU (Sniper Patrol Unit). Kai sighed with, not relief, but a certain feeling of melancholy. He checked his timekeeper, shit, he had to get a move on.
Kai jogged over to the dead birds, scooped up two of them, leaving the third carcass for the hungry living raven, and shoved them into his old, army issue, rucksack. The fourth bird had obviously taken off when the SPU collapsed, and Kai wondered how long it would take the hungry bird to return to eat the remains of his dead friend.
South Port was quiet. This was not unusual but, from Kai’s vantage point, he could not see team Zenith. He scanned the area carefully again for another few minutes and saw no movement whatsoever. The old, ruined office buildings of the Brocklebank Shipping Company would be the obvious spot for a team to hide out in, but it was a little too obvious. He knew Sergeant Kendrix well enough to know that he would not be so stupid.
On the horizon, behind South Port, Kai could see the hundreds of shipping vessels with a few landing ports that now lay derelict and rusting in the murky water. It was like some giant and macabre watery cemetery for machines. He was wary that Junkers often roamed the old ships and surrounding areas looking for anything that may have any worth. Tinned food being the ultimate prize.
With one eye on the general South Port area, Kai dropped down a small rocky retaining wall into a vast and, mostly, empty carpark. He made his way, stealthily, across the cracked and bumpy bitchumen with his rifle aimed and ready from his shoulder.
As he reached the outer wall of the old shipping office, he decided to call for team Zenith. “Zenith this is 713, come in Zenith.” All he got back was low static. His brow furrowed with, slight, concern.
His intuition told him that something was wrong, but he was a facts man.
Kai entered the building and immediately felt the chill from the darkness within. He was quite certain Sergeant Kendrix would not be in the building, but Kai felt it was a good place to start looking. He did not want to alert HQ just yet, not until he had done a physical search of South Port himself.
The ground floor of the building had been completely burnt out a long time ago. The charred black walls, floor, ceiling and remnants of furniture adding to the darkness. Amazingly, Kai could still smell smoke.
After a search of the, sixty odd square, ground floor he ascended a central stairwell. About halfway up to the first floor he came across some empty, non-descript tins, a small rusted knife, a torn up sleeping bag and other various personal items. He flicked the safety off his rifle. The scene before him told him that a squatter had been here at some point, a common occurrence. He could also tell that the meagre possessions had been there for quite some time without being used or disturbed.
On the first floor there were more signs that a fire had raged through the offices but not quite as severely as the ground floor. He heard a crackle behind and spun ready to shoot, only to see an emaciated cat run across a mouldy and rotting carpeted hallway. His mind flickered to the dead birds in his sack and he decided the meat on those should be enough to sustain him for today.
He went to a glassless window and carefully peered out. Down below was a burnt-out delivery type truck and a few more ravens dotted around. A chilly sea breeze was coming in from the ship cemetery and that’s when he smelt it. The sweet but sickly and unmistakable smell of death.
He called in for team Zenith once more but received the same low static. He considered contacting HQ but still felt he should search around some more. Afterall there was not really anything to report.
He searched the floor he was on to see if he could locate the source of the distinct smell of death but found nothing. As he was about to head up to the second floor, he heard the distant whir of a motorcycle from the direction of the carpark. Getting into a low crouch he headed towards a window. Kai raised his rifle to peer through its scope and, sure enough, there was a motorcycle, yellowish in colour, coming down a narrow road that lead onto the carpark. The figure on the bike was clad all in black. Kai knew one thing; it was not anyone from the Council.
Kai continued to watch as the motorcycle crossed the carpark heading towards the office building. The rider was not confident as the motorcycle seemed to wobble a bit, then, as it came to a halt, the back wheel skidded a little and then the dirt bike completely toppled over sending the rider sprawling, awkwardly. The rider, now much closer, was breathing heavily as he or she slowly got to their feet. They then unslung a shoulder bag and took out an older style pistol. Possibly a Sig Sauer P226. The rider kept the helmet on and dashed into the ground floor of the office building.
Kia suddenly heard the person call out, “HELLO, COME OUT I’M FRIENDLY.”
Yeah right, thought Kai. Kai also realised the person was female due to the higher tone in the voice.
He manoeuvred quietly over to a spot just in front of the stairwell and behind a fallen steel cabinet then took aim at the top of the stairs. He waited.
“PLEASE, COME OUT, I MEAN YOU NO HARM.” The female rider called again.
Kai remained quiet and still, not wanting to give away his position just yet.
He heard tentative footsteps on the stairs as the person started to come up. Kai steadied his aim.
More steps. Then the black rider’s helmet appeared in Kais gun sights. “STOP.” Kai yelled. The person stopped and spoke, this time quieter. “Please, I mean you no harm, I saw what happened to your friends. I live at the old steel mill across the road. I saw them take the people dressed like you.”
Kai considered this for a moment then replied, “If you mean me no harm then why the gun?” There was a pause and then a low, humourless, chuckle. “Do you know anyone who isn’t armed these days? Honestly, I can help… for a price.”
Ah, there it was, everyone has a fucking agenda. Kai thought with a smirk.