APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 6 August, 2002


Watching the Sun Rise

Jules Considine

"So why are we going after this Hirsch? S'not like he did anything important, and last I heard, he got capped by the Keffing A," said one wastrel-not-wastrel to another. The other gave him a sidelong look before returning his gaze to the broken corridor ahead; his pace was unbroken by the other's distraction as he continued avoiding breaks and ruin across the path.

The building they were in was the part of the remnants of a surface city that had come together from the multitude of refugees, in a time before the two had arrived. It was a bastion of possibilities and promise for some, showing what could be done when a few and a many could put aside dying to live. But its image worked both ways as the ruins showed, uninhabited yet as wanderers avoided its bombed out shell and dangerous warrens. They had cleared out the last of the combat drones lingering in the area, and disabled all of the mines they could find. But there still lurked the many natural dangers of Utopia, and the occasional missed drone, a lignering menace. The two erstwhile spies were the only living members of the population, except for the blowing winds of Utopian lice and the last carrion feeders, still alive after the last bodies were picked clean long ago.

"We're not going after him like that. This isn't like all of the missions we pulled back on 'Nova where we found our perp, roughed him up, got him to talk, and then did whatever. It's different here," whispered the other, looking out at the horizon, just barely lit by a light working its touch around the curve of the globe. When the city was alive, a door had probably capped the corridor in which they stood. Not now; there was a smooth expanse of wastes once you stepped over the threshold.

"Yah yah," the other speed spoke, "I remember: its a grab mission, but in a nice way. Ask first, don't put the target off, but bring him back if at all possible. This Gregor Hirsch must be a piece of work, to get all this attention. I mean, they put such a high priority on bringing him in, then say don't if it means he don't like us."

The other turned back, eyeing him through the tint of goggles. "It's Hirsch Gregor, get it right. You'll be the death of both of us one of these days."

The first laughed, slapping his unappreciative friend on the back. "I'll get it right one of these days. But tell me what makes this Gregor boy so important. Command neglected to explain anything to the lowly grunt," he said, face unproffesionally dissolving into a silly grin at his joke on military motivation and orders.

The dour face cracked for a moment with a half smile, but it became serious a moment later. "Hersch knows something very important to the people of Utopia. If they knew what he had to say, then they wouldn't need someone like the CEF to look out for the future. And he woult tell it, if he could. That's what we're here for." Outside, the clouds were turning shades of umber, and the sand was beginning to yellow beneath the line of the sky. The colors were slightly different, due to the different atmospheric content, but they were comfortingly alike to those he remembered from the past. "And rest assured, Hersch is quite alive. Messiahs rise on the dawn of the third day, don't they?" The other waved off the comment with an idle hand, still grinning despite the other's seriousness.

The grin quirked, and its owner spoke: "I still think it's not our job. But who am I to say? So what's this all important know-how locked in Hersch's head?"

Slipping off his bulky overcoat to reveal a stolen armiger suit, the other climbed into the aging APES suit he had hidden alongside the threshold of the corridor. As his partner folded the coat into the locker strapped onto the back of the APES, he answered. "Hope. He knows about hope."

Then, he gave pause in securing himself into the warmachine, and watched as dawn swept over the horizon and lit the world. As it always did, in the end.

A little later, the suit was up and running, and the two left, following the sands and the whispered words of information. By then, the shadows had shortened a little, and the city was empty of life once more.

In the darkness, a knife scratched graffiti addorned the wall. A cross marked circle, embraced by a claw who's drawer had crosshatched it in, that it was as dark as the shadows that surrounded the sigil.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 6 August, 2002