I took a glance over to the smoldering pile that used to be my brother; shot by a Technion who happened to be tracking our footprints from behind.
I hated those machines more than God.
It didn’t matter now, he was dead and so was I as soon as it came back and it wouldn’t be long. I tried to find a cartridge of ammo for the only weapon that was still effective against Technions, plasma. The one thing I could remember from my limited knowledge was that they were composed of a metal called technite which was highly reactive to electric current. They could easily meld with vehicles, other machines, equipment, and even each other. It was their way of recruiting others cheaply and as fast as needed.
I continued my search for a cartridge until the machine came back to survey the being it sent out of commission. As I watched it turn the body over and stick it’s long finger into the wound I noticed the satchel my brother stole from an abandoned hideout. He mentioned it was for ammo storage, but he never fully disclosed it’s contents.
I prayed for a hope that there might be some kind of way to distract the machine so I could snatch the satchel unnoticed, but they were smart and and any attempt was nearly impossible without the help of a few brave volunteers.
“This is it.” I said to myself in dismay. There was no way to get past it, I knew it would eventually find me and turn me into what my brother was now. My heart pounded in my throat and adrenaline rushed into my head as I leaped out from behind the wall and tackled the Technion.
The hard metal broke the bones in my hand with every swing as the machine struggled to throw me off. It rolled over, crushing my leg, but setting me closer to the satchel. The pain was enough to drive my anger to the point where I was able to push the log of Technite off and hobble to my brother’s body. As soon as my hand ripped open the bag the Technion hit me in the back, knocking all the air I held in my lungs. I fell to the ground with a death grip on a plasma cartridge and tried to open an eye to locate my gun.
It was within inches of the machines foot when it picked me up to finish the fight. A thin blade slid from the top of it’s wrist and had every intention of using it to gut me, without hesitation I jabbed the cartridge into the Technion’s neck, instantly severing a vital cord to it’s systems. The thing tossed me off and held it’s slender hands against it’s neck, growling in a strange dialect. A shard of the glass stabbed into my palm, forcing me to grab the gun with my other hand and load it at the same time.
The Technion recovered in mere seconds and charged toward me with a larger, extended blade. I pulled the trigger and watched as a wide burst of plasma punch through the machines chest, leaving a hole that I could joyfully dive through.
The chunk of metal slumped to the ground with a chimed thud. I gained the strength to stand back up, but the energy inside was gone and I fell back to the earth.
The sound of obnoxious chatter awakened me from my state of unconsciousness. I was on a cot with several more next to me while people around the room sat in groups conversing about how they survived the inevitable and ended up in this hell. I wondered about mine and the evidence of a story like that was the layers of bandages that covered my hands, head, and abdomen.
“You’re one crazy S.O.B., ya’ know?” I heard to my left. A man in a mix of Centrium and Habanian armor sat on the nearest cot. “You tried to take down a Technion with your bare hands; that’s outrageous, but the attempt is congenial.”
“The greatest people that ever existed never wasted time playing it safe.” I said with pride.
“They also died early.” The man chuckled.
I forced myself to chuckle back even in disagreement. I was still alive and that’s what mattered.
“Why did you do it?” He asked.
I thought long and hard about that question. Everything I wanted to say felt like an excuse and far from the true nature of my ambitions. “I…felt like there was no other way out. My brother just died and I figured what would matter if i ended up the same way. With the world the way it is now…there’s no reason to live.” I said regretfully. I realized how suicidal my action was, being a touchy subject to bring up in front of rogue solders. They were once the enemy, but escaped when seeing their brothers and sisters get killed by their own hand became intolerable.
The man looked flustered and turned away without response then signaled a substitute nurse , pointing her towards where I lied.
“How are you feeling?”
“Good, I guess. My hands hurt.”
“Obviously.” The nurse said as she inspected a delicate wound on my arm. “It’s not everyday you find someone with the audacity to slap a Technion.”
“No one is ever going to let me down with that, huh?”
“Nope. Everyone thinks you’re crazy where as Kirk just thinks you’re stupid.”
“That’s his name? Kirk?”
We both peered over at the man that approached me moments ago.
“Yup, that’s him.”
The nurse continued to tell the story of the man and how he happened to be the same escapee who took down an entire battalion of Kingdom solders and broke into their cache of recovered artifacts people called “Demicrons”.
“And ever since then he’s been finding refugees and training them for what’s to come next. He wants to build the army back to it’s former glory.” The nurse said enthusiastically. “My name is Claire, what’s yours?”
“Nice to meet you Alma. Welcome the Wicked.”
“The Wicked?” I said almost bothered by the name.
“That’s what they call us.” Claire said in reference to the Kingdom soldiers. “With Spencer’s reform, we are the enemy and they are the holy saints that are to restore the world to it’s perfected image.”
“Great.” I said, knowing of the previous stories that had been told, but nothing that explained it quite like that. It made sense and I tried to analyze the information to get my mind off of the repairing of my hand.
Claire unwrapped the bandages and inserted the hand into a moulded shell that was connected to an unknown machine. “This is going to hurt. I’m sure you already know that though.”
The machine whirred and a white fluid ran through the connected tubes and spread throughout the cast. It was cold at first, but gradually warmed then became a burning sensation that was comparable to thousand of red hot needles stabbing through my hand. The pain lasted for a few minutes, but subsided once more bandages were placed on the healing wounds.
“There, that should be repaired in around twelve or so hours. Be glad it wasn’t worse.”
“Thank you Claire.” I said just before she wheeled the machine away to mend the others in pain. I removed myself from the cot and followed the stairs up to a balcony to reflect on the growing conflict.
Reminiscing about our lives before the cataclysm occurred became a natural tendency throughout the days. The planet Habani was a beautiful place with vast rivers and lakes, mountains, and all sorts of wonders that kept our home the king of the galaxy. Now it was dying. The green hills turned into grey, the water turned black, and the rest of the world turned into a barren wilderness. The person to blame? Our very own president Lance spencer, the one who affirmed that our safety and continuity would stand the test of time.
How idiotic we were to believe him. He separated his chosen people from us–the Wicked–and brought them to The Kingdom, a city of pristine beauty on the Islands of Utopia. He then allowed the Technions to overrun our capital city which assembled themselves on the base of the planet’s largest mountain. The Technions were recruited by Spencer so he wouldn’t have to necessitate sacrificing any of his beloved children as he called them.
The Titans rubbed the evidence of his emerging nefarious scheme in our faces and yet we ignored them. I guess I could say that it was our fault.
“Don’t say that.”
Startled, I jerked my head, encouraging the sharp pains to return from my past inevitable injury.
“None of this was our fault.” Claire said as she helped herself to stand beside me on a ledge that overlooked the depressed landscape.
“It could have been prevented.”
“It was out of our control and I believe that all of this happened–is happening–for a reason.”
“Well I beg to differ!” I said, bothered by the fact that if a God existed why would it let millions die and millions more suffer. “The Titans warned us, they knew and we didn’t listen. It was our mistake, an accident that came with grave repercussions.”
“…There are no accidents.”
I shook my head and she rolled her eyes. It was entirely within my discretion whether I agreed with her or not.
“I dont get you.” Said a now docile Claire.
“What do you mean?”
“When you fought that Technion, you did it because you didn’t care anymore; you wanted to die, but yet you persisted on killing it. Why?”
A disquiet air surrounded us. I felt like a hypocrite after realizing how my story sounded.
“I didn’t care if I lived or died when I fought it. At the time if I could kill it then fine and if I couldn’t, then fine too. When I said that I wanted to die it meant that if I was truly incapable of killing it, I wouldn’t fight against my fate.”
Claire’s eyebrow raised to the top of her forehead and hid behind black bangs. “You couldn’t say that at first?”
“It was moments after waking up from a concussion, I’m sure I was a bit disoriented.”
“Right and I bet…” Claire paused and focused on something far in distance.
When I asked what was presenting itself to her she ran off in urgency. I followed her to the main holding of the shelter to discover everyone in a frantic race to equip themselves for battle.
“I’m confident that you know how to use an Arc Shield?” Kirk said as he tossed a plasma rifle into my arms.
A mere four hours had passed since my hand was mended and I was already being thrust into another fight. “I don’t even fully understand what’s going on.”
“Technion Assault Cruiser, it’s not guaranteed that they’re here for us, but I wouldn’t think twice about being prepared.” Kirk pointed to the cache of Arc Shields. “I’d get one if I were you.”
Everyone stood still as the rumbling of the enemy vessel was heard above, many pressed their fingers against their lips to avoid making any distinguishable noise as a fearful countenance filled the room. The cruiser overhead sounded as if it had activated some kind of magnetic suspension anchor, then silence. We stood in the same dead noise awaiting for whatever was to happen next, hoping that they would leave without a fight.
The crossing of our fingers was insignificant to our hopes and without warning a deafening blast shook the structure, prompting a group of solders to dash into the conflict. I heaved an Arch Shield onto my back and followed the rest. Not even three seconds of being exposed and bolts of plasma that flew by seared my skin; in defence I paused to drive the Arch Shield into the ground and activate it. These were one of the most valuable devices that we had in our possession as it provided transportable cover in any situation, it was created with the same material as Interplanetary Transport Cruisers–a electromagnetically charged metal that generated a plasma window–absorbing any blasts it’s hit with.
This was far from my first time in battle and I was far from what anyone would call a hardened solder, but I knew how to fight which I saw to be sufficient. Jumping from cover to cover , small bursts of plasma ejected from my firearm and happened to land on a few Technion units within my sight. Kirk noticed my progress and to my judgement seemed impressed, until he bestowed an expression that I interpreted as his way of saying that he wasn’t impressed. He then continued to step out of cover and pull out a sword, running toward the barrage of Technions. A bright blue glow emitted along the center of the blade before slicing into the mass of machines.
I recognized it as an Avian-class Jet Blade, a weapon that was only issued to the highest and most honorable fighter pilots in the Avios Air Force. Clearly there was more to Kirk’s past than anyone knew and he was keeping it a secret. In moments the Technions at our stationed area had either retreated or eaten plasma, orders were given afterwards to help flank another group who was attempting to break into the shelter. A few grenades were thrown into the crowd which engulfed almost half of their numbers. However it did little to decrease their strength and the remaining machines split formations and shot at our troop from all sides.
Two comrades fell and many more joined him when a zipper craft flew overhead and dispatched a small number of missiles, hitting the shelter where the debris would land within the troops. I was lucky enough to avoid any injury and I looked up to survey the damages.
Claire stood in the vast hole that used to hold the medical bay. To see her alive after that brought a strange sense of relief and just when I thought she was okay a pair of Technions sighted her and advanced toward the shelter. I emptied an entire cartridge trying to prevent them from a fate I didn’t want to imagine. When I heard Claire scream and idiotic scheme generated in my mind; midst all the crossfire I climbed up the face of the shelter with a complete lack of awareness for my safety. I peered over the floor to see Claire in the hands of a Technion with a more distinguished build than its kindred.
“Consign to us the artifact you have procured, this is a nonnegotiable request by the omnipotent himself.” The Technion affirmed rigidly.
“He has no right to do these things, he doesn’t deserve it.”
“The omnipotent possesses the imperium to decide who deserves what and under his supremacy you are constrained to adhere to his law.” The Technion was about to proclaim his loyalty to Spencer until he noticed a slender cord around the woman’s neck and began to communicate in an unknown language. The second Technion then grabbed her other arm, holding her down to pull on the cord and raise an artifact from under her shirt. It broke it from around Claire’s neck and handed it to the one in control.
“The omnipotent will be gratified to know that you cognized his authority.” The first Technion pointed his weapon at Claire, ready to eliminate the evidence of her existence.
I jumped up and shouted as loud as I could. The first machine held up a hand or what I perceived as a hand, stopping the other from shooting.
“Who are you?”
I was unprepared to hear the words escape from it’s mouth, after all they usually didn’t have that warm and conversational demeanor. “You don’t need to know who I am. Why do you need the artifact and what makes it so important that you would kill innocent people?”
“Any concerns regarding the omnipotent’s designs will be eradicated willingly or forcibly.”
It was either the words I took as an insult or the amount of adrenaline that pulsed through my brain which compelled me to press the trigger. The Technion I targeted rolled to the left, dodging every blast then propelled a whip-like object in my direction, latching onto my gun and ripping it from my grip. In my momentary stupor the Technion pinned me against the broken wall. I trembled as it’s nine eyes cast a brighter red the closer it came. Being face to face with evil paralyzed me with an untiring trepidation. I noticed Kirk in the corner of my eye with the same look of concern as I did.
The machine muttered a strange phrase and slowly released its grip then ran off, leaving the rest of their comrades on the ground as the cruiser disappeared into the clouds of smoke. I remained against the wall in utter astonishment. Claire and Kirk approached in confusion with the same question, “How are you still alive?”
I wanted to ask the same.
“What did it say to you?” Kirk asked promptly.
I shrugged with a firm assumption that no more questions would be enquired.
“I’ve never seen a Technion conscience enough to make an ethical choice.” He said jokingly. “When it comes to Habanians it’s never an option unless it’s their own kind, then…”
Kirk grabbed my arm and immediately began to unwrap the bandages covering my hand. Claire gasped at the sight of my wounds which revealed a silvery black with bright green lines instead of newly regenerated skin–as if my knuckles had turned into technite.
I couldn’t fight the reality of the situation, I was turning into a Technion. “What did I do?” I said stiffly.
“Just calm down and do nothing! Claire, did you notice any of this?”
Claire shook her head. “There were no traces at all, not even a few hours ago…”
“It must have accelerated within that time.” Kirk rubbed the back of his neck as he pondered what he should do. “I think I know who can take care of this.
“…Who?” Claire and I said in unison.
“Carter Durram. In Syncro District about one-hundred and sixty miles from here.”
“And how can he fix something like this!?” I said waving the corrupted hand.
Kirk chuckled. “Because he used to be a Technion himself.”
The next day came and all I could do was stare at my transmogrified hand in disgust. I was repugnant to have myself become one of those wretched machines, and I began to form an extreme enmity towards them, far worse than ever before. From the mouth of Kirk the resolution to this onerous predicament was to reach a man who apparently became a Technion in the same manner as I. My skepticism would stay continuous until I saw the outcome I desired.
“Are you going to talk to yourself all day or help us pack?” Said a deep voice. It happened to be Basil, one of Kirk’s weapon clerks. Basil was one of those gentle giant types who had the muscular ability to crush your skull with the flick of a finger, but was graceful enough to carry a kitten through a minefield. He was a highly respected figure around the society of The Wicked primarily because of his relation to the Titan of Stone; bald head, unnatural level of stamina, and his use of the number five were all traits the two shared.
“I’m the one dying here. Spending the last of my time here doing chores is greatly unfavorable.”
“If you call helping yourself surviving a chore than Godspeed to you.”
I wanted to respond, but my brain wouldn’t allow my lips to function. There were two words that perfectly described how I felt like and it had to do with a certain creature’s orifice. The exclusive reason why this venture was being organized was to get the help I needed to prevent myself from evolving into a monster. People would be sacrificing their lives to transport me to Syncro District, one of the most dangerous places to be in this world and I was acting like a self-centered fool.
“…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean-”
“Leave the apologies for someone else.” Basil said nonchalantly. “I understand what you’re going through so there’s no need to say anything else.”
“Really?” I said in disbelief.
“Well, yeah. You’re not the only one going through a rough patch in this journey. There are things we don’t want happening and people we don’t want to see dying, therefore we try everything in our mortal power to…umm, counteract those fates. Sometimes we even come across as selfish or unsympathetic when really we can’t care enough.”
It was the first in a long time that words had such an impact. I started to feel guilty for how I was behaving and realized that I was perhaps in a better position than most others.
“…Well, im going to step off my soap-box and continue to pack.”
I approached Basil and grabbed a box of supply to fit into the trunk. “I’ll help.”
Basil smiled and patted me on the back.
One of Kirk’s greatest fears was leaving the shelter under the supervision of someone who wasn’t him. It had become a part of who he was, people saw the shelter to be his child and since a part had been destroyed he was more protective than what would be considered healthy. Nonetheless he found the journey as a way to redeem himself from his controversial past.
The trip would last around a day or do, unfortunately we lacked the resources that provided us transportation. Each and every craft and cruiser activated with the swipe of a special licensed credential card, if hacked into it would send a notification to enforcement and a form to redeem for instant arrest would be generated. Since we lived in this period it would be certain execution.
Walking by foot would take two weeks at the least and the distance in-between the location of the shelter and Syncro District was what others considered the “Highway to Hell”. It passed through a massive chasm that was home to an array of dangerous creatures, Kingdom outposts, and a Technion Forgery built into its walls resembling a spider web.
“Many go in, none come out.” Kirk said bleakly.
“Then why go though it? Why not just go around?” I was optimistic that there were other paths to take, but Kirk shook his head.
“It’s the fastest way to Synco District and we need to get there as soon as possible.”
“We don’t have to go.”
Basil showed an expression of surprise, for once I wasn’t being a selfish jerk. “It may be a vain attempt to get you the help you need, but we are willing to do whatever it takes. Joining The Wicked makes you our brother, plus Kirk has something in mind for you.” Basil nudged me in the ribs leaving a considerable bruise.
“Yeah,” I groaned, “I can’t wait to see.”
“Are the pods stored on the Crawler?”
“Every one.” Basil shut the compartment hatch and slapped the side of it. “It’s ready to run.”
Kirk nodded in satisfaction, taking a deep breath of the air he had grown accustomed to. I could tell he was afraid and everyone else as well, except for maybe Basil who was happily humming while overlooking the chassis of the Crawler. It was his pride and joy, after all he compiled it from scrapped cruisers by his hand alone which was then used as a transport utility machine.
“Alright everyone, let’s start moving. We should be able to reach the chasm by nightfall.” Kirk declared to our group of sixteen.
As we began to walk forward a voice behind us shouted for us to stop. A woman in light armor wearing a small cape around the waist sprinted to Kirk
“I’m coming with you.”
“Claire.” Said a perplexed Kirk. “Why? You know how dangerous it is.”
“Doesn’t matter, I’m coming whether you like it or not.”
“No you’re not.” Kirk growled. “You’re staying here!”
“Make me.” Claire mobilized with the group while Kirk was left behind contemplating if it would be honorable to simply tie her up.
“Women.” He said through gritted teeth.
A man in a sharply cut suit observed the island of Utopia through the large window of a skyscraper. He was feeling a sense of accomplishment after giving his last orders, greatly hastening the development of his monumental stratagem and then almost nothing could stand in his way. A spot in his gut tensed when he thought about a certain person that would be a major impasse if he was still alive, in fact he wasn’t even perfectly sure if he was indeed dead, but not a second was spent harboring such an introspection.
It’s been years he said to himself. Could he?
The President of Habani turned, putting his hands behind his back. “Status report on the one-o-nine?”
“Sir, it happens that Goleem has returned with the Demicron.”
Lance’s face molded with concern. “The Demicron?”
The Kingdom Guard nodded then braced for impact.
“The order specifically stated that an entire heap of Demicrons were to be recovered from that sector.” Lance said sternly, but calmly. He expanded his chest with air and let it out in a sentence demanding to see the one who was in control of the situation.
A Kingdom Officer walked in, assured that a request for his audience would bring a marvelous reward for rescuing a vital Demicron and bowed in the utmost respect.
“Stand up.” Commanded Lance. “I perceive that you read the report specifics?”
“Correct Sir. The cruiser identified the location of the stolen artifacts to be abandoned, but in truth a multitude of The Wicked lied hidden and attacked us.”
“The Wicked succeeded in pushing your forces to retreat without the rest of the Demicrons?”
A lump formed in the officer’s throat. His hands became sweaty from nervousness and his fear of the unfolding events were shown profoundly to Lance.
He smirked, content with the officer’s fear. “Do you have evidence that proves me wrong?”
“…No.” The officer swallowed.
Lance’s smirk grew into a grin. “You know what I hate more than anything?” He said while walking in circles around the officer frozen in fear. “People…who are undeniably, flawlessly, and beyond questionable doubt–useless.”
In seconds Lance’s withdrew a gun and a deafening blast recoiled violently. The officer that once stood before him was now on the floor, with a portion of his head nowhere to be found.
“Bring Goleem.” Lance ordered as he wiped blood from his face.
“Yes sir.” Said the officer who then communicated with the Technion through his Com-Pad.
Goleem entered the room and immediately noticed the mangled Kingdom Guard. It kicked the body out of its way and placed itself in his original spot. “Your omnipotence?”
As soon as the artifact was in Lance’s hand he beheld its silver and gold core the glowing jewels on its housing as the ancient magic coursed through. He was grateful to have it in his possession, but he still craved for the others. The Demicrons made him feel powerful and once he mastered how to use them he would become even more powerful.
“Why didn’t you get the others?”
“Your decree was and will be delayed until The Wicked are obliterated.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do, but why are my orders being deferred until then? I hope you are aware my jurisdiction overrules your nation’s.”
“Regardless of how informed I may be of your supremacy, I will revoke if it conflicts with my disposition.”
Lance turned around in astonishment from the machine’s words. “What did you say?” Lance knew exactly what it said, but to hear it again would be amusing.
Goleem looked back at the dead body. “No matter how many you kill, your designs will deteriorate if a proxy is unengaged.”
“Proxy? What kind do you envision?”
“When we infiltrated the construct I encountered a form which had Technion coding networked into an anatomy of flesh.”
Lance suddenly remembered that Technions didn’t kill their own kind. A plan brewed in his mind, a plan that might significantly increase the productivity of finding the rest of the Demicrons.
“We need to coerce him away from The Wicked, I have obtained a way to do just that.”
Lance nodded and turned back to the view of his virtuous landscape. “Do whatever it takes.”
The time it took to exhaust the group of us was shorter than we anticipated. Seven hours of walking and we were already pleading to retire for the rest of the day, unfortunately for us Kirk was a trooper and disregarded any plans to stop.
“We haven’t even reached the chasm yet guys. How can you be tired?”
“Well for one,” Said one of the others. “We haven’t even paused for lunch.”
“You can’t eat while walking?”
“We’ve also been on foot nonstop for almost five hours.” Said another.
“It’s actually been seven.” Kirk corrected.
“Seven Hours!?” One in the back exclaimed as he suddenly realized that he couldn’t feel his feet.
Claire rolled her eyes with each complaint the crowd had to offer.
I continued to walk while making an effort not to selfishly request any kind of a break, I wanted one as badly as the others, but to complain with the rest of them would cause them to be less and less willing to continue on. They had a point though; it was expedient to reach the chasm by nightfall, but if we were to come across danger, we wouldn’t have the energy to fight them off. I didn’t dare say it because I had a belief to jinx situations.
“What if we happen to come across danger? I mean we kinda need to energy to fight them off ya’ know.” Basil said to break the silence.
Kirk paused to reflect on the idea until we started to collapse as soon as everyone had caught up.
“Well alright then. I guess we can call it a day.” Kirk said in a defeated tone.
Almost instantly tents began to erect and sleeping cots unraveled from their respective pouches, taking moments for the area to look like a traveling circus park. Kirk patted Basil on the shoulder. “I’m blaming you for all of this.”
During our travels, our vast quantity of water depleted in a few hours and if we were to progress any further a refill of that supply was mandatory. A few of us decided to grab an empty container and dip it into a river that flowed near the campsite.
“Such a waste.” Claire said with a full container of water. “I used to live there.”
I pointed to the distant city that was visibly in flames. “That? You didn’t live too far from me.”
“You lived there too?”
“Yeah. For two years, I can’t say I grew into it though.”
“Hmm…interesting.” Claire walked off before I could ask her the question that I was wanting to say to her for days now. For some reason she had a familiar presence about her, something I remember vaguely before in some point in the past. I decided it wasn’t that significant and continued to collect water.
One of the guys who were part of the group ran up to the stream and dipped his hands into it, sipping on the water he scooped up.
“Hey, you might be drinking contaminated water!” Said another guy in reaction to the thoughtless act.
“It tastes normal to me.”
“That’s what they all say.”
Another man approached the stream and helped himself to a sip of water. “I think you guys worry too much, these are natural underground lines, the purest water you can find.”
Persuaded by that statement a few more came up to partake of the flowing waters. I was far from convinced, I knew that it would have to be boiled before drinking, but their impatience overcame them. Suddenly the first one that drank from the river started to yell and clutch his belly. The loud outburst attracted Kirk and the rest of our group to the scene of the man on the ground convulsing in extreme pain.
“Someone get the medi-pack!” Kirk ordered.
Basil rushed to the Crawler and tore the pack from the harness, but as soon as he ran to the man in distress he was already unresponsive. Three others began to do the same, with one of them vomiting on another. All we could do was watch in horror as the four men fell to the ground and died.
“What happened!? What were they doing!?” Kirk looked at the containers that rested beside the lifeless bodies. It was hard to overlook the clue that led to the disaster. “The water.”
“We tried to tell them, but they didn’t listen.” Said one of the still surviving members.
Kirk sniffed the contents of the container then noticed the origin of the stream. The opening was from a broken utility line, giving the appearance of a natural underground spring.
“This was sabotaged on purpose. Whatever they put in those lines was meant to kill us all. How many were taken?”
Basil counted and produced a number he was uncomfortable saying. “Five.”
“That brings us down to twelve. Alma, keep a container of that water as a sample, Carter may have a way to identify the contaminate.”
Basil shook his head in disbelief. “Twelve. What do ya’ know.”
I grabbed a small bottle and dipped it into the pool of water trying not to imagine what else they would try to do. In a way I felt responsible for those deaths and perhaps even more if the lines were also connected to the shelter’s.
They knew what we were doing and worse, they knew where we were.