The buzzing poles that marked the perimeter of the safety corridor seemed to be only holding back floundered farmhouses, parched fields, and tree stubbled hills. Excena scanned the landscape and saw nothing that betrayed movement. The corridor only had certain entrances that you had to negotiate with a definite pattern or be turned to dust. It must be protecting them from something. The vibrations leaking through the air from the poles had been causing disruption to her insides. She had been passing black water perched over sparse streams throughout the day.
The wounded crew member she had brought with her had begun to admit a low moan much of the time. He just mouthed the provisions she had proffered him, dropping most of the pieces out of his trembling lips. The smell of his ravaged skin and soiling occupied the air between them. He did not have long.
She heard voices behind them, loud and uncaring. Some survivors had made it into the safety corridor.
They came out of the scrub. A man and a woman, their clothes rags, their movements stilted like a predator approaching prey. The crewman lay still in the middle of the campsite. The man wore a sparse beard. The woman had bruises on her face; her lip was cut and trickled out blood. The man glanced over the crewman briefly then began to sort through the bag tossing bits of medical supplies and food around.
These people don’t have shit. Search his pockets.
I don’t want to touch him. He looks like he messed himself.
Don’t make me ask you twice. Don’t think he is going to wake up.
She cautiously crept closer to the prone crewmember.
Excena grew tired of the pageant and slipped out from behind the tree she had used to hide herself. The man looked up as her shadow crossed him.
He took in the wrist gun and complied.
The woman froze over the crewman.
Did you just punch your wife, or whatever she is?
The man didn’t speak.
I am going to need to know.
Yes, we got in an argument.
Please don’t hurt him, he is all I got.
All you have is me.
Wait said the man.
Excena turned the wrist gun to his knee which vaporized into red mist, the remainder of the leg landing a couple feet away. The hollow pop of the report echoed back over the proceedings.
The woman ran to the howling man her face wet with tears.
Why did you do that? You need to help him.
Gather up those things he threw around. Both these men will be dead soon.
Excena kicked a knife out of the man’s trembling hand. He was gasping and straining for breath. Blood pooled into a puddle downhill of his efforts.
Cry over him for a minute if you want. But, if you want to live follow me, I’m going to the city.