There was very little difference between the days and nights in this new world. The nights could last as long as three months in this region of the world. It was difficult to determine the exact time. Crystal took refuge in the shell of office complex. It was easy to lose oneself in the twists and turns of the burnt out alleys and courtyards of the light industrial center.
She tucked her notebook into the lead lined case which attached to her cargo bag. She still wore the black battle suit from the complex. The alloy exo-structure enhanced her abilities physically, but she left the helmet in the submarine. Out of context, no one had noticed the suit she wore as anything unusual. The Night People themselves didn’t seem to have any common sense of style. They were garbed in whatever remnants of cloths they could find or produce themselves.
She scanned the building for an area free of storm damage. This was a good indication that the structure of the building would not be compromised by a passing storm. They were not made of the Earthen based materials that had shown immunity to the storms like they were making in the Western Complex area. That information could prove important to the continual maintenance of The Complex Units in the future. It would be easier to manufacture than constantly extracting iron ore from the magma of the earth’s core.
There was movement in the courtyard outside that caught Crystal’s attention. The red laser sight blazed to life from her assault rifle as she decompressed the trigger slightly in preparation for attack. Unaware of her presence the shadowy figure moved into one of the adjacent offices seeking out shelter for the night. Crystal returned to her search of the upper story.
Meeting every person from behind the barrel of a gun was probably not going to be an effective way of making contact and extracting information from the Night People, but she had no experience in evaluating the threat levels of this brave new world, so she was confronted with the primordial, instinctive complex of fight or flight.
A scream came from the courtyard below followed by the sounds of a scuffle. Crystal instinctively drew her weapon and made for the second floor walkway overlooking the scene. Below stood an imposing figure standing over the small shadow she had seen earlier. In the adjusted gloom of the evening she was able to see that is was a woman cowering beneath the monster. His right hand was elongated and seemed distorted beyond natural proportions. A soft blue light seemed to emanate from inside his hand casting shadows into the corners of the courtyard.
“You are mine tonight, whore. I was in need of a little plaything before I set off into the badlands.” He raised his hand above her in the motion of attack.
The shadowy women beneath him whimpered in resignation. Then a whisper sound came from above followed by a short flash. She saw the left side of the man’s head explode outward as he fell to the ground at her side. She looked up to see the red beam of the tracer laser shining down from the walkway above. Shielding her eyes she could make out the white hair of a figure above.
She looked again at the body of the man next to her and again began to whimper. With a flash, crystal jumped over the railing of the walkway and landed below in the courtyard. She could see the woman’s eyes widen in fright as she came closer.
“Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Crystal lowered the rifle and the red laser sight went out as she released the trigger.
“You… you are Nightspawn?” She stammered out.
Crystal could see the woman before her trembling in fright.
“No, just a woman, like you.” Crystal shifted her shoulders and the rifle strap automatically pulled tight strapping itself once again on her back. She extended her hand to the woman to help her up. After a few moments of hesitation, the figure accepted her hand.
“I am Alcyone, a wanderer from Toowoomba. How could you defeat the Nightspawn if you are not one of them? They are unstoppable.” She looked from Crystal to the remains of the figure on the ground.
“Is this thing one of the Nightspawn?” Crystal bent down to examine the remains closely.
She withdrew a pocket analyzer from her cargo pack. It would be useless for a reading out here with all the background radiation, but it could capture a genetic sample that she could study once back at The Complex. With a snap it sent out a needle and immediately withdrew a sample. Within seconds it retracted and she folded it back into her pack.
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