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Dear readers, I thought I would try my hand at something a little different to my normal style. This is a very slow burn romance story set in a post apocalypse world where law and order have ceased to exist.
There is no actual sex in this chapter, that will come later.
Part one: Blondie
Outwardly she looked like any other scavenger. Dishevelled clothing and back pack, covered in a layer or two of fine mud and sand, flavoured with the occasional splatter of blood from one of the wilderness’s creatures or from something more dangerous. The rusty, battered looking assault rifle that hung from the combat harness looked like it had seen far better days. Instead of the masks that that the plains wanderers wore to filter out the particles of dust, she wore a simple scarf fastened over her mouth and nose, and a pair of ancient looking sunglasses with scratched red lenses covered her eyes.
The reality was far different from the appearance. The patches on her worn leather trousers hide hardened steel plates, providing a modicum of leg armour. The long duster coat had scavenged ballistic Kevlar sewn in to the lining. The faded, tattered cap that bore the letters L and A?no doubt referring to the city that had existed before asteroid Zeus had struck Earth?was lined with hundreds of interlocked steel rings, painstakingly formed by hand. The face scarf was double layered, with a changeable gauze filter sandwiched in between. The sunglasses were augmented with pre-Zeus military technology, giving her a vision enhancing HuD overlay, and the rifle was very well-maintained and only painted to look battered and rusty.
From her understanding, the human race had just been getting on top of the problems it had created for itself when Zeus had entered the solar system. The asteroid had not been big enough to be a planet killer but big enough to knock the Earth slightly off its axis and alter the weather system drastically. Billions had died in the following cataclysm. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and storms claiming many, the disease and starvation that followed took many more. Of the initial survivors, some people said that the planet would recover eventually, others said differently. Many just made the most of the chaos to do whatever they wanted, killing, raping, and taking what they needed from the weakest to feed the strongest. Or better-armed at any rate.
In the wake of Zeus, continents that had been tropical were now deserts. The polar regions were allegedly thriving areas of plant life, the rich soils that had been locked under the ice caps for millennia, now exposed to the air. The once thriving cities and population centres were inhospitable ruins, rife with disease and decay. The majority of the landmass was a mess of swamp and dust wastes where living was hard, and it was easier to take what you needed than work to get it.
Blondie had been a young child when the reavers had come to her parents’ farm. She vaguely remembered screaming and flames, but not much more than that. A small part of her was grateful she didn’t remember, but mostly she hated the various reaver gangs that now roamed the deserts and ruins of what had been civilization. That part was what led her to the path she now walked.
That of the Hunter.
For ten years the Red Right Hand had kept her, firstly as a living mascot, dragged along on a chain by the gang leader, then as she grew older and the leadership of the gang changed, she had been used as a personal slave to the new boss, a large brutal man she had only called Master.
He had treated her brutally and raped her more times than she could remember, until one night she had cut his throat while he slept. Normally he would have chained her up when he was sleeping, but over time had gotten careless, misled by her feigned submissiveness. One night, while everyone was asleep, she stole his knife and opened his throat, watching emotionlessly as his life blood flowed from him like a river.
She could have left the camp there and then. She may have even got away. Instead, she had walked out into the camp wearing nothing but spilt blood and a gun that was clumsy and heavy in her young hands.
A bounty hunter, who had been tracking the marauders, found her three days later. Half-naked, half starved, and still covered in the blood of her kills, her eyes full of hate, distrust and a feral wildness.
There were days when Blondie wished the man had put a bullet in her but instead he had taken care of her, clothed her, fed her, taught her how this new world worked. How to survive. How to hunt.
Kane, the bounty hunter, had died two years previously. What had begun as a cold had gotten steadily worse. He had been considerably weaker than when he had first found Blondie over twelve years before and the infection quickly grew until he was racked with fever. Blondie had stayed with him until the end, then buried his body and moved on. There were no tears shed. He had taught her, that to feel such emotion was a weakness, and weakness would leave you dead in the poker oyna mud. Besides, the pack they had been hunting had been getting further away and Blondie never gave up on a hunt.
She was hunting a similar pack now. A group of five, three men and two women. They had attacked a settlement seven days ago, killed half a dozen traders and farmers then made off with supplies that were crucial to the settlement’s survival.
It had been coincidence that Blondie had stopped at the settlement, and as a stranger had been singled out as another possible threat, one she quelled when she offered to hunt the murdering thieves down and return the supplies. The only demand she made in her offer was a few meagre rations to get her to the next town.
The trail Blondie was following wound along the base of a rocky gradient covered by coarse brush. The tracks the reaver gang had left had been fairly easy to follow up to now but ahead the spoor had vanished. Pausing in her tracks Blondie stooped, back-tracking to see where she had lost the trail. An echoing gunshot reverberated from somewhere past the gradient and Blondie rolled in to the bushes by the side of the trail, seeking the meagre cover the foliage offered, the barrel of the G36 lifting as smoothly as she dropped and the targeting Hud coming to life as she looked down the reflex sight. The shot meant someone was fighting someone or something else. No one wasted ammunition frivolously this far out in the wastelands. Blondie scanned her surroundings, trying to discern which direction the gunshot had come from. Above and ahead the rocky scrub rose gently, the bushes giving way to a small copse of withered trees that clawed the air, attempting to keep a hold on the land they had fought to grow from. The trail she had been on was well worn, but now she was among the spikey thorn bushes she could clearly see another path that threaded its way up the ridge until it vanished from sight. It was an obvious route over the rise, and if the reavers had taken that route, which the gunshot indicated they had, it would be foolish to follow the easy path.
Cutting to her left, Blondie slipped through the bushes carefully, her booted feet moving silently, edging slowly up the sloping ground until just below the crest where she dropped to her belly and crawled the remaining few metres. Below her rested a shallow basin, positively green with vegetation in comparison to the surrounding area. Nestled in its centre was a single-story house, possibly from before Zeus by the look of the architecture, but no doubt protected from the cataclysm by the natural surroundings. The perfect place for a small family to live in relative safety. Or for a reaver gang to hole up.
Scanning the area below, Blondie could just make out movement around the low building, but not clearly enough to distinguish any detail. The building could be an isolated homestead, but it could also be the base of operations for a band that the five reavers belonged to. She needed to make a full reconnaissance before doing anything further.
Slowly, Blondie eased herself away from the ridge line and as silently as a breeze and traversed her way to the small copse of half dead trees that overlooked the area. Working as quietly as she could, Blondie slipped off her pack, extracting a sturdy case from inside. Her hands worked from muscle memory, snapping the catches and withdrawing the items secured within, swiftly assembling the rifle the case had held. A ten-round magazine slipped carefully in to the receiver and a round fed into the breech. Crawling forwards once more Blondie nestled in behind the telescopic scope then unrolled a fine grey green netting from under her coat’s collar to mask any sight of her location.
The building jumped in to detailed definition as the pale green, upturned V panned over the scene.
The first figure she saw was a female reaver dressed in dirty jeans and t-shirt with layered leather pads on her arms and thighs lounging on the porch, while drinking from a grubby bottle.
Blondie resumed her scouting, spotting three bodies lying amongst the handful of vegetables growing to one side. Two were middle aged, wearing coveralls while the third was a male reaver, a gaping hole in his chest. No doubt a settler had managed to kill one of them before they were overwhelmed. That would at least explain the gunshot.
Of the remaining three reavers there was no sign. But at least Blondie knew that the building was a homestead and not a reaver hideout.
The scope moved over the house, pausing at every window for signs of movement. At one window Blondie paused longer as she spotted the second female naked, hands pressed against the wall either side the window, her exposed breasts bouncing to the rhythm of the male thrusting in to her from behind.
One more to find.
The front door of the homestead banged open and the last male staggered out on to the porch, a bottle to his lips. Casually the man threw the bottle towards the lifeless bodies as he belched loudly.
“And five.” Blondie canlı poker oyna whispered to herself. Now she had the four living reavers accounted for, she could wait awhile for the moment she could slip down and put an end to them silently. ‘No need to waste ammo.’ She mused.
The male and female on the porch exchanged words, too quietly for Blondie to make any sense of what they said, but the female gestured towards a metal shed at the edge of the garden. The male stomped across the vegetable patch to the small structure, his body language brimming with anger. Blondie’s scope following him every step of the way.
There was a pause for a second as the male glowered at the metal door, then yanked it open and reached inside.
The cold hand of Blondie’s past memories gripped her spine as the male dragged a teenaged girl, kicking her legs and screaming in to a cloth gag out of the shed by a chain fastened around her neck.
The scars around Blondie’s neck from where she had suffered a similar fate prickled, as did the scars that weren’t visible. The ones she had buried deep inside her mind.
“Crap.” Blondie muttered, now left with only one path to take.
The scope panned quickly back to the open window where the naked female reaver was open mouthed and voicing her sexual sentiment as she neared climax. Panning back to the male, Blondie lined the sight on to his right temple, flicked the safety over and breathed out.
At the bottom of her breath she squeezed the trigger.
The MSG90 had a trigger pressure of only two pound per square inch. A comparatively tiny amount of work to end a person’s life.
Blondie didn’t consider reavers or marauders people.
The rifle’s suppressor muted the shot to less than a cough, and Blondie knew there would be nothing but a slight zip noise as the round cut the air between her and its target.
Not that it mattered. The male reaver’s head turned in to a red mist before he would have heard any sound.
The scope shifted back to the porch where the female was staring open mouthed as the male’s body was still falling to the floor.
The next round took the female high in the chest and she collapsed back in to the chair she had been reclining in.
By the time Blondie swung the scope to the window the last female was hanging her head a little lower, her male partner gripping her waist tightly in the throws of their passion.
The third round passed through the female, covering the chest of the male in her blood as the bullet punched a life-ending hole in him.
Three rounds spent and four dead, Blondie thought to herself, not too sloppy.
Caution kept Blondie where she was, too many people died rushing in to a hot zone thinking all assailants were dead, only to find too late they had missed someone. She did check the girl over after flicking the safety back on. At first look she seemed unharmed, the only blood on her looked to be remnants of her abuser. Blondie estimated her age to be mid-teens, closer to a woman than a girl. She had fallen silent, her eyes wide and glancing around, no doubt wondering if her saviour was better or worse than her now deceased captors.
The hazy sun continued its relentless march across the sky and still nothing stirred in the quiet hollow. Blondie decided that enough time had passed to venture down and carry out a thorough check of the homestead. Carefully she withdrew to where her pack was stashed and unloaded the rifle, before storing the component parts back in the case. With everything packed away, she retraced her steps to where the route downwards was easier to traverse. Even though the need to go and check on the youngster weighed heavily, Blondie forced herself to move slowly, walking in a half crouch, the G36 half raised, eyes watching for any signs of movement, the sensor in the HuD scanning for any movements.
The male reaver she ignored, she was pretty sure he was dead seeing as the majority of his head now decorated the ground. Blondie made her way cautiously towards the house, the building looked as though it may have been someone’s summer retreat originally, maybe the girl’s forebears. The female on the porch was stubbornly clinging to life, her eyes full of pain and pleading as her heart slowly pumped her life out through the holes in her chest.
Blondie hardly gave her a second glance as she removed the cut down twelve gauge from the dying woman’s side.
No sense in taking risks.
A careful but quick search of the house revealed no one but the two reavers in the back room, their clothing and gear strewn across the floor, while their unseeing eyes inspected the ceiling.
Satisfied that the area was secure, Blondie shrugged off her pack and slung the assault rifle, before crossing to the girl. Dark brown eyes rimmed with tears watched as Blondie gently released her from her bindings. The moment her hands were free, the youngster sat up and wrapped her arms around Blondie, sobbing with relief as she held on to her saviour.
Awkwardly, Blondie placed internet casino her arms around the girl, understanding she needed comforting but too unfamiliar with the act to do anything but pat her back.
It took time but finally the sobbing lessened, and the girl began to tremble as the adrenalin stopped running through her blood. She began to enter shock.
“You need to be inside,” Blondie told her, the words quiet and dry, her voice unused to verbal communication.
Half-carrying the girl, Blondie dragged her towards the house, stopping when the girl stiffened at the sight of the female reaver, still breathing raggedly as flies buzzed around the open wounds in her chest.
“That one killed mamma,” the girl blurted as she began to sob again.
Anger flared inside Blondie. She could understand the males need to kill and rape. For some it was keyed into their DNA that when placed in a position of superiority, they wanted to impose themselves on others, especially females, more to prove to themselves that they were indeed superior. For a female to be as base, it took wanton cruelty.
Blondie knelt down, letting her charge drop to the same level. With them both kneeling by the side of the reaver, Blondie draw a knife from her boot, the very same knife that had established her freedom years before. Holding the razor-sharp weapon carefully she wrapped the girls fingers around the hilt.
“You can finish her if you want,” Blondie told the girl, “Or we can just watch her drown in her own blood.”
The female reaver opened her mouth, desperately trying to speak, but all that came out of her mouth was bright red bubbles of blood. Blondie knew she only had a few minutes of life left in her, but it was an important lesson that the young girl looked death in the face.
Silently the girl passed the knife back, shaking her head.
With a shrug Blondie replaced the blade in her boot. “You’ll need to learn how or you’ll die like her.”
Two days after she had taken the contract Blondie returned to Georgetown, the stolen supplies dragged behind her on a makeshift cart. A canvas bag contained the heads of those she had hunted down. Faced with the quandary of what to do with the girl, Blondie opted to take the youngster to the small community of farmers and traders, sure that someone would take her in. The assorted folk bustled around when Blondie strode in to the small market place, full of praise for her ability and honesty in returning the stolen goods. Unused to the small but still uncomfortable crowd, Blondie just shrugged off the compliments, speaking only to ask if anyone would care for the now orphaned girl who remained glued to the scruffy hunter’s side.
“We have hardly enough to feed ourselves,” one of the farmers told the hunter, shaking his head sadly, “Maybe Roseville will take her in.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Blondie replied quietly, although she had doubts. These days another mouth to feed was a burden and families had to think of themselves before strangers. She didn’t blame them, it was survival of the fittest. Evolution at work. If it hadn’t been for Kane she would have perished at best or at worst, turned in to one of the very things she now hunted. She looked down to the youngster. Big brown eyes full of sadness looked back.
“Crap,” Blondie muttered with a sigh, “Guess I’m stuck with you for a while.”
“Empty yourself of all emotion,” Blondie advised softly echoing the mantra she often used for herself, “Feel nothing. You are as uncaring as the weapon you are holding.”
From where she lay, Blondie could hear Niki’s breathing slowing down as she attempted the calmness required to make a long-distance shot. Blondie had been coaching the younger woman for the last four years, teaching her how to track, how to shoot, how to survive. Much like Kane had been her teacher, Blondie was now Niki’s. The younger woman was keen and willing to learn, she had rapidly adapted to tracking and using smaller weapons but had lacked the mental detachment to master using a sniper rifle. Something Blondie was determined to teach her.
“The scope is an extension of your eye, the rifle an extension of your body,” Blondie whispered, “What you see it sees,” her slow, soft words easing Niki in to a hopefully tranquil state of mind.
Early on, Blondie had been a little reluctant to have the teenager tagging along with her. She was accustomed to being alone, there were times when she thought it better that way seeing as she wasn’t a sociable person. That was proven when they arrived at the only home Blondie had ever known, a cave tucked away in some low-lying hills, a long way from anything that resembled civilisation. When she showed Niki her hideaway, the younger girl had been unimpressed at the basic lifestyle Blondie had been living and suggested using the house where Blondie had rescued her as better option.
The idea was more than sensible, as Blondie had already observed. It was secluded, well built with its own vegetable plots that would supply some food, and it wouldn’t take her long to rig up a few things to warn them of unwelcome guests, and therefore more defensible. In truth, the idea had crossed Blondie’s mind but hadn’t mentioned it as she was unsure if Niki would have wanted to return to the homestead.
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