“Man I swear we’s done for if we don’t get food soon, did you hear what Tommy was saying a few days back? That this Famine we’re fighting, he’s not just burning the food or sabotaging it, him and his are eating ALL of it!”
Black smoke bellowed up from the wreckage, the acrid smell of ancient plastics mixed with the smell of burning oil and hot metal suffocated the air. Cries issued out from under the slags of twisted metal and as well as the agonizing screams of those trapped in the flames. A figure crawled from the wreckage, one twisted arm wrapped around a sack and the other dragging himself away. Steel flashed as a blade pierced through his leg pinning him in place. Looking up at the approaching fingers, his lips trembled as he begged, crying mercy. The figures laughed and ripped the sack, filled with all his Tickets and his dearest possessions, from his grasp, the Final Knights merely smiled and tossed the sack and cred onto the flames. They left, leaving the merchant to bleed to death as every one of his possessions, assets, and friends burned in the flames around him.
“I SWEAR IT’S TRUE, I saw ‘em tear my entire squad apart right before my own two eyes! These final knights are unnatural! They have wings and claws and fight with the strength of a hundred of us. The coast was clear one second and the next we had ‘em on us!”
“Ya think that’s enough? I tell ya that’s half the goods of last time. You expect us to make it there and back on this?!? Well I tell ya I’ve got the right mind to just go there and not come back! Why should I stay and help in this war torn hell? The Black King will let me stay, he’s not gonna make me risk life and limb with not even enough goods to pay for the Texas Tea to get my caravans to the trading post! Fuck you!”
“I don’t know what’s going on anymore, middle of a skirmish, me and mine are getting ripped to shreds, when all of a sudden these Final Knights that were on us got all shot to hell by some people we don’t know! And then a minute later those same people tried selling us cigarettes! Course we bought some but point’s the same, things are weird on the front lines.”
Grimacing as he clutched his bleeding wound, the Remnant staggered down the road. Desperation fueled his steps as he stumbled more than ran down the road. The sound of a Diesel Jock Ride lit a panic in his eyes and he jumped off the side of the road, landing dead on a pair of rovers also hiding in the ditch. His panicked scream was silenced by a hand on his mouth and a single finger to the lips of one of the rovers. They waited for the Ride to pass. Peering over lip of the road, one of the Rovers hesitated, then scowled.
“That’s not the Awaken Legion,” the Rover started as he began to stand up, stopped cold by a bloody hand clutching his arm with surprising strength pulling him back. Looking down into the eyes of the Remnant, he saw the pleading in his eyes.
“There’s more to fear than Final Knights!” The Remnant hissed.
“Give me one of them cold ones boys!” The Diesel Jocks hollered and clapped each others backs, hoisting up a case from the earth. Prying it open they passed around the bottles of hootch stashed inside.
“Go easy now, it’s gonna be awhile before we get another taste!” Lobbing the last bottle at a gang member he turned to his second. “Clutch gonna keep his word ya think?”
“Hard to say boss, hard to believe that it’s gotten to the point a few cases of hootch is ‘asking for a lot’, we gonna have to get our hands dirty if we wanna keep up the bargain.”
The grizzled DJ grunted and was silent for a moment, “Welp we couldn’t stay out of this war forever.
Hunger gripped their stomach as they sifted through the muck. The Saltwise could feel the hot Hell Dorado sun baking their skin. The channel was black muck instead of the usual shallow stream, and it smelled foul, worse than the backing stench of the garbage flats. No - foul wasn’t the right word. Death… the mud smelt like death. Stealing themselves the Saltwise ripped first one foot out of the mud then the next, slogging through the mire.
“Come child we do not wish to dwell here”, they said in a soft voice. After a few seconds of silence, they turned to look back, only the question word “Child?” managed to escape from their mouth as the razor sharp claws tore open their throat. A milisecond later, they were being eaten alive as the creature tore into the fresh meat greedily.
As the life flowed out of the gurgling Saltwise, a small smile touched their lips and joy glimmered in their eyes before being snuffed out as the body went slack.