Escaping City 17

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Escaping City 17

Post by Tempest on Thu May 26, 2011 2:41 pm

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Will's eyes snapped open and he rolled from the tattered sofa, his hand automatically slipping beneath the cushion. The noise came again. Hard, deep thumps. Will relaxed slightly, it wasn't the door. He pulled his hand out from under the sofa, empty, and stood.

Cautiously, he approached the window, leaning into the cracked wall at its side as though afraid of being seen. In the street below a procession of armoured vehicles and formations of Civil Protection units went by. Will watched them with utter contempt. They were the worst; those men who had betrayed their own race to join the faceless ranks of the so called Civil Protection. To Will, they were as inhuman as the grossly modified soldier units.

Then came the source of the noise, and as it grew closer it shook plaster and dust from the apartment ceiling. On three gangly stalks it plodded by, taller than the apartment building, like some abominable alien spider. As he craned his neck to look up at it, a chill crawled along his spine. He had faced many horrors in his life, from the slaughter of innocents to the poor victims of headcrabs in the sewers below, but the Strider would always take first place amongst his fears.

'Why are there so many of them?'

Will looked up. The tone of fear in the voice was reflected in the face of a young woman. Despite her youth though, years of suffering under the authoritarian rule of the Combine had taken its toll on her. She was gaunt and pale and her very presence exuded an aura of nervousness. Will pitied her. He knew she was on the brink of snapping. People like that did drastic things, stupid things. That was why he kept her close, to keep an eye on her. He couldn't let her compromise him, or any of them.

'It's alright Claire, they're just moving on. They're not here for us,' he said reassuringly, but it failed to convince her. It always did.

'They're here for someone,' she said quietly, shrinking out of the dirty light that filtered through the grubby windows.

Will sighed, turning away from the procession. 'I have to go again, will you be alright?'

Claire shuddered, a slight moan escaping her chapped lips. He put an arm around her hunched shoulders and guided her into the next room. It was as filthy and unkempt as the first, a kitchen apparently.

'There are rations in the cupboard, okay? Eat if you're hungry. You need to eat,' he said, as though explaining something to a child. 'Remember, keep the doors locked and don't let anyone in, unless they know the code.'

The woman muttered something meekly and nodded, sitting on a stool by the chipped kitchen counter and bunching herself into the corner. Will shook his head. She was pathetic, but could he really blame her? There were only two types of people any more. There were those who stood firm in the face of the oppressors, shrugging off the blows of the stun baton and there were those who cowered under the lash, breaking and giving it all up for the promise of a better life. If only they knew it came at the price of their souls.

Looking at Claire, he knew what kind of person she was. He knew it was only a matter of time. He decided, as he unlocked the door and peered out into the dim light of the corridor, that she would have to go.

The sun was harshly bright against the pale morning sky, and Will moved into the shadow of one of the columns which lined the raised platform before the exit of the train station. Occasionally, a few people would exit through the double doors of the old building and disperse into the cobbled square to their assigned living area.

Will scouted the plaza with his eyes. A few Civil Protection officers stood about an obelisk at its centre and a couple of scanners drifted in the air. One of those holo-screens was mounted on the obelisk, but thankfully it was silent. Will wondered why, normally it was on a loop of Breen's latest broadcast, something for the civilians to drink in as soon as they got off of the train.

He wasn't waiting for anyone off of the train, but it was a handy meeting place and an excuse for more than one person to move in the same direction at the same time. The combine had strict regulations against even two people together in the streets. If it looked like a few new relocated civilians moving towards their assigned residential block though, there would be no problems.

Or at least, Will hoped so.

Some new civilians had been contacted and instructed on where to go so that they could be led out of the city, and Will was to be their escort for a while. That was one of his main jobs for the underground, helping people to the canals on foot. It was dangerous, but it was the only way. From there on they were someone else's responsibility.

He leaned out of the shadows once again, enough so that he could be seen by those who were looking. If they had read the instructions properly, and he dearly hoped they had, neither of them would approach him or each other. When they had seen him, they would look at the sky, as though trying to gauge the time by the position of the sun. What a great day for that, thought Will grimly, wincing in the harsh sunlight.

Then he would set off and at a distance, they would follow.
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