The great wastes - first contact


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 Markus looked out over his farmand sighed contentedly, watching his sons run through the corn rows as they played with his sister. The farm had been in his family's possession for generations now, ever since the passing of the nuclear fallout. None now living knew how humanity had survived this extinction, but now pockets of their remnants had begun to spread once more. He stepped off the porch of their home, the wood creaking under his weight. Looking behind him he could still clearly see the towers of the great hub, perhaps the only structure to have survived this long intact, he only knew of a Great Wall to the north that also existed, though little of it remained now. Returning his gaze back to the fields he could see a huge bird approaching at speed, a loud thrumming sound emanating as it got closer. Before he could shout his sister and children indoors the bird was overhead, though when men descended from it on ropes he knew it was no bird.

"Get down on the ground!" One shouted at him, the only thing Markus noticing being the rifle pointed at him.

He complied, kneeling down as another man bound his hands and ankles.

"Why are you doing this?" He asked, watching as two more went out into the fields.

"Following orders, just stay down and this'll be over soon".

He looked up at the men, each wearing hub style tactical armour, though theirs were coloured a dark grey rather than the bright red of the hub guards. Within minutes his sister and children had been brought, each bound at the wrists.

"Load up the targets and lets go, the hub won't be here for a while but I don't want to risk it," the first soldier said, his men taking a child under one arm and pulling on the ropes with the other as they ascended into the sky.

"Don't take my children!" His sister screamed, struggling as they bound her ankles and when she wouldn't stop they gagged her.

"Look, I don't want any trouble, well no more than we've had. But why are you taking my boys?" He asked calmly, though panic was threatening to paralyse him.

One of the men pulled down the balaclava covering his face, it was horrifying to look at, the skin burned and seeming to have peeled away, "they may be the key to our survival," he said, pulling the balaclava back up before ascending with the others.

He lay there with his sister, watching the metal bird carry away his boys. A few hours later a large group of hub guards arrived in a ground crawler, a huge monstrosity of metal on tracks. As he explained what had happened they bustled him and his sister into the crawler.

"You will be compensated for your loss, please return to the Hub. Your ability to procreate will be of great service to the Autarch" a grey haired guard told him before the door closed shut. He knew he'd never see the farm again.

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Chapter 1

 Richard held his breath, only when the mutarat held still for a mere moment did he pull the trigger. 

"Excellent work my boy," Henry said from beside him, taking the silenced rifle from him.

Henry was one of the old humans, he'd lived a long time, though the radiation had, over time, melted away his flesh, only a paper thin veneer now covering  parts of him. Richard was entering his fourteenth year with his brother Simon. Henry wasn't his real father, he was long dead so he'd been told, the two of them had been taken when they were only three.

"We should go back, the smell of that one will attract more," Henry said, slinging the rifle over his shoulder and slipping out of their nest high up in an old tower block.

Henry led the way, he'd grown up around this area, and even though it was little more than rubble now he still spoke of it fondly.

"You and Jen still 'friendly'?" He asked without preamble.

"Yeah, 'course we are, she's like my best friend," he replied nervously, though things had felt wierd recently after he'd seen her naked by mistake. She hadn't seen him, or at least gave no indication, but he was awkward around her now... and always had to sit down.

"That's what I thought, Kevin thought it might be more. What do we know, can't remember the last time... anyway, how's your driving?".

He shrugged, glad the subject was being changed from Jen and her lady parts, "it's going good, far as I can tell".

"Good, 'cause I'm weighing up sending you out on mission".

Richard stopped climbing down the ladder, the thought was terrifying to him, flying in the helicopter was something he'd always wanted, yet also feared. Soaring through the air, he shivered at the thought.

"Something wrong?" Henry called up, having already reached the bottom.

"No, everything's fine," he called back, climbing down the ladder quickly.

They made their way through the ruins until reaching an underground railway, the trains had seized up decades ago, so rusted they weren't even good for scrap. They went down the tunnel with their rifles raised, mutarats were always a threat, but who knew what else lurked in the dark. Henry couldn't see in colour, his eyes damaged by the radiation. The upside however was that he could see in the dark, though bright light was a problem for him. Henry had already removed his goggles and balaclava, the suns uv light no danger down here. Richard had already hooked a link to him, a two foot length of cord so he didn't get lost. After a few minutes Henry let out a sigh of relief.

"Still here, shit myself every time I come back. Always a chance some prick'll have nicked it," he said out loud, helping him over to the jury rigged tram.

"Built this myself you know," Henry started.

"I know, you tell me every time we use it," he replied, helping him spin the engine round and locking the mechanism to the rear wheels.

"Yeah, but it's a good story," Henry told him, perhaps smiling, though with the lack of light he may have been pissed off.

The engine chugged into life, driving the tram forwards at a gentle pace. There would be several hours of nothingness as far as he was concerned and Richard bundled up his coat and placed it under his head. After three days hunting they were going home.

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