The resurgence

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  1. Another one, James thought to himself, somewhat bitterly. His mouth turned into a thin, hard line as he rolled his shoulders in an effort to cut some of the dry mountain wind. Planned obsolescence. It really will be our undoing. He glanced at the chest-high Climber robot beside him. It was made of metal, and it moved on treads. It carried most of their gear, and it was outfitted with grappling hooks and small personal heaters for the colder mountain nights.

    He glanced ahead of him, to one of the other mercenaries who'd taken on the assignment. They were outfitted similarly, with thick fur coats, heavy boots, and goggles with some of the oxy-scrubber masks that kept caustic ash from burning their lungs in danger zones. Each was outfitted with no less then one primary, and one secondary firearm, as well as the odd hooked multitool that served as both as melee weapon, and entry tool as needed.

    Each of the mercenaries were stern looking men, and lean though not with malnutrition. Mercenary work paid well, so long as you could stomach what you did. Static crackled briefly over the short range comms, and the voice of the newest recruit in James' squad piped up. "Remind me again why we're dragging ass all the way up the side of this mountain?"

    James rolled his eyes, shrugged deeper into his fur-lined hood, and kept trundling right on up the mountain towards the bunker. Another voice however keyed in on the channel to shush the newblood. It was hard to make out anything of the mercenaries beyond their loadout, so heavily bound were they against the elements of the mountain. They might have been anybody, were it not for the crimson standard flying on the pole standing from the back of the last man in line. It was red, with a white dove in mid-flight, the standard of the mercenary company that had been working the wasteland since people had first been ejected into the hostile world.

    As the small band approached the position of the bunker, James pulled his hood down. He had a mess of black hair that flickered and danced in the winds of the mountain, longer perhaps than was common in a military unit. He had a strong jaw with a clean shave, and calm, blue eyes. He stopped the Climber. The men all about him stopped as well, and followed suit to wait for the representative from the fallout shelter. The man in front called out firmly and clearly. "Crimson Dove unit Five-Three, reporting to Shelter Stonebrand for duty postings."
  2. Gwen was sitting next to a child coloring when an assistant called her name. She glanced up at the clock on the wall and sighed, standing up and dusting off her pants, then patted the child's head and walked to the window to see the small group of men. Her green eyes focused on them, sharply making notice of every detail. These were strangers and needed to be taken weary.

    She smoothed out her shirt and made her way to the door and opened it, standing in the frame with her weight distributed solid on her legs so the men just couldn't barge in there. "This is Shelter Stonebrand. I'm Gwen and I help with the well being of this place. May I ask your names." Her voice was soft, but firm. With her being so young, she had to assert her authority. These men weren't much older than her, but they were strong and serious. They could easily walk all over her... if she didn't have claws, teeth, and an attitude.

    She moved her blonde hair from her face and licked her lips in an effort to keep them from drying against the mountain's harsh wind and squinted her eyes. The mountain weather was harsh and unforgiving and she knew these men were drained from the journey here. She almost felt bad for them, if it wasn't for this hell hole being her home.
  3. James' eyes flicked to the figure in the Shelter's doorway. It looked secondary, placed after the Resurgence, likely. Not the sort of thick steel doors that had been meant to withstand an apocalyptic blast. Doubtless, the primary blast door was deeper within. From behind his goggles, he took stock of the woman as his sergeant called up the men to stand at attention.

    The sergeant was a stocky man, with bushy blonde brows that rather overshadowed his own goggles. His head was shaved cleanly enough to glint in the bare light sifting through the cloud cover overhead. He began the roll call with his own name. "Sergeant Alftold Montgomerry."

    After the Sergeant was a birdlike fellow with a beak of a nose, and a closely shorn head of hair, although not so closely as the sergeant's. What was there was bristly, and black. He had a carefully trimmed mustache, and it was clear that he was scrawny even through the bundled clothing. "Fire Team Leader Weston MalPhae."

    James was next. He was taller than the Fire Team Leader by a few inches, with a fuller head of hair besides. He wasn't as thin, and his rifle looked to be slightly longer than the two of the men preceding him. "Squad Designated Marksman, James Hattur." He said. His voice was clear, and baritone.

    Four more men rattled off their names, including one who'd gotten a field promotion when the squad had happened upon what they'd thought was a decommissioned sentry drone. At the outset, they were a man short.

    When the introductions were finished, the Sergeant gave the order to stand at ease. Most of the squad pulled their hoods back up, and drifted off to inspect the immediate area. James was left to attend the Climber. Montgommery stepped forward, and glanced past the woman, to the shelter. "If there's room, we'd appreciate getting out of the wind while we're off duty." His eyes returned to her. The Crimson Dove had something of a reputation for being on-the-level, honest sorts. As honest as mercenaries got, anyhow.
  4. She gave each of the men a hard look and cross her arms in front of her chest, "This shelter is home to mostly children and women. Mess with any of them, and I'll have your head on a stick in the front of the property." She turned her back to the men and walked back into the building, leaving the door open for them to enter. She waved a hand to a teenage girl and whispered to her, which quickly led the girl to nod her head and run into the kitchen to start preparing dinner for everyone and Gwen ushered everyone into other rooms to give the new guests space to walk.

    "We're low on space, so you men will have to share three rooms. Three to one, two to the other two. Or however. That's your business. If thats not good enough, I can just let you sleep in the yard. You'll have all the space you need there." She glanced back at them men and raised a brow at them, waiting to see if they would say anything. After a moment, she hit a button on her wrist band and it brought up a transparent screen that quickly started filling up with information of the shelter and she highlighted the rooms the men would be in to mark them full. She made a face as she noticed the rations the shelter had.

    They were expecting a new shipment of food, but the carrier was already two days late. She glanced down to a child that had somehow made it way around her leg and was hugging it tight, peeking at the men curiously. Gwen smoothed the boy's hair back and looked down at him frowning. "Go back to the main hall. You have no reason to interact with our guests right now. We'll meet them later." The boy gave her a pouty face, but nodded and slowly walked away. Staying at a corner and staring for a moment before disappearing to do as he was told.
  5. Four of the seven men followed the surly woman into the shelter, out of the wind. The duty roster had been decided by the Sergeant before they'd arrive. They'd always have men on perimeter guard, in groups of three. The trail up the mountain was narrow, and easy to observe. One of the privates meandered out towards it to settle in an alcove they'd passed, to watch the path from cover. The other two were exploring the area for goat-paths, and easy-to-climb rock walls.

    James escorted the Climber into the entrance to the shelter, and powered it down in an out-of-the-way stretch of wall. An access hatch on one side opened up on the cow-sized machine, and James plucked from the hatch a trio of slim black personal heating units, to be secured about the waist to keep a body's core-temperature up. With his rifle tucked under one arm, and the P.H.U.'s draped over the same, he closed the access hatch on the crawler to deliver the heating belts to the on-duty privates.

    Meanwhile, MalPhae was directing the off-duty units to the rooms they'd been allotted, and Sergeant Montgommery was doing his best to put at ease the woman with whom they were to deal with. "The men won't lift a finger against any of the souls under your care, miss Gwen." He said brusquely. "You're paying us, after all. We're here to protect you. We'll be sleeping in shifts so that you're not taken unawares at night." He paused. "Are you the one in charge of the holding?"
  6. She nodded towards the man, "I take charge here for the most part. Really, we all kinda run it together. Everyone has their own job that's crucial to keeping us running effectively. Follow me to your rooms." She motioned her arm to the man. She led him down a dark hallway into the main hall. The hall contained all 100 survivors comfortably, though most were out and about doing their own things. It wasn't so big that everyone could reach their arms out without hitting the other, but everyone had breathing room and the children had space to run and jump.

    The walls were gray slate and cracked, but they kept the harsh weather out and provided safety. The ceiling was wood laid with rafters and peaked at a sharp corner. The rafters were wrapped in old lights, similar to ones that a family would use for Christmas. They made they children feel like they were looking at stars at night, since they weren't allowed out of the building after dusk. The main hall narrowed into a single hallway that split up into its own separate halls that the rooms were.

    She led the man out of the main room quickly to avoid any conversations with the people.
    "The first hallway that splits from here is the children's wing. We have 30 children; ages from 6 to 12. We have some younger, but they bunk with the older kids in the second hall. The youngest child is three. The second hall is our teens; ages 13-17. Third hall is for adults, this is also where you will be staying. I'm telling you this so you know who you are intending on protecting."

    She stopped quickly and turned to him. "We are paying well and for the most part, the people here aren't able to protect themselves. We're barely surviving as it is." She gave him a hard look, then gave him a once over before making eye contact. "Thank you for taking the job, but I'm not impressed with what I'm seeing yet. I've seen the rouge bots that are out for us; can you really protect us?"
  7. The sergeant let his eyes scan the interior of the shelter. He'd slung his weapon from it's strap slantwise across his broad shoulders, and he'd pushed his goggles up onto his brow, before crossing his arms over his broad chest. "It will take more than words to convince you that we're worth what you paid us. Know that we've engaged automatons and bandits alike. Our performance will speak for itself when the time comes." The hard look on the woman's face rolled off the gruff sergeant like water off a boulder. He'd seen the like before, and he'd see as much again.

    "I've already set one squad to patrol the immediate area to ward us tonight. Find one of my men when you intend to send scavvers out. If you'll excuse me, my men and I have come a long way. We need rest."

    The sergeant's words weren't hostile by any measure, but it was clear that the belligerent woman was wearing on his nerves.


    Outside, James had finished delivering the P.H.U.'s to the men on duty, and he made his way back to the shelter's door. He kicked snow from his boots at the stoop, and let his hood down once again. Up went the goggles, as the door closed behind him, and his rifle earned a place leaning against the Crawler. He sat down on one of the great machine's treads, and regarded his weapon. It was laser technology, and precise to a pinpoint, and durable besides. He dragged the weapon closer, and ejected the power pack to check the charges remaining. Full. The cold hadn't sapped the battery yet.

    The stone-faced marksman clapped the charge-pack back into the weapon's magwell, and disengaged the refraction tube to check the lenses in the barrel. None had cracked, or misted from cold. It would fire, and fire well. After reassembling his weapon, he repeated the process with the sidearm on his hip. Now and again, he'd glance up from his work, should any of the locals draw near enough to interrupt his concentration.
  8. She smirked at the back of the man's head when he put her in her place and went about his business. She felt like she made a wise decision in hiring these men and felt more comfortable with allowing them to wonder her halls. She walked to the kitchen and placed her hand on the young girl she had spoken with eariler's shoulder. "How's things coming?" She asked gently. "Good! Almost done! Just gotta pop this last batch of biscuts in the oven and we can feed the kids in bout....ten minutes! The adults can eat in about an hour."

    The young teen swirling around the kitchen with a few of the other younger kids. One of the boys was in the corner sneaking bites and Gwen gave him a hard look that made him blush and smile. She sighed and stopped as she looked out the window and saw one of the men leaned down in the snow, busy with the task at hand. She couldn't see the others and figured they were doing their assignments.

    She stuck her tongue in her cheek, then quickly made a small plate and pour a warm drink and snuck out the back door before one of the teens could scould her about sneaking off with the children's food. She scoweled as the wind whipped through her hair and squinted her eyes until the rush died down a bit and made her way towards the man. She was accoustimed to the weather here, but there were moments it caught her off gaurd.
    "I've brought you something. You should eat." She sat the meal and drink next to the man and looked curiously at what he was doing, but tried to keep from asking. They were mercenaries, not friends to have conversations with. Still, her age sometimes got the best of her. She could act as old as she wanted, she was still 21 and the age most women were trying to fall into love and party. Though neither interested her the least bit.
  9. James glanced up from his work with the sidearm when the woman approached. It was the woman who'd welcomed them to the shelter. And a warmer welcome it had been than some they'd gotten. He finished set the sidearm in his lap, and pulled his gloves from his hands to accept the meal and the drink with a nod of thanks. He regarded her with a sidelong glance, as he set the drink down on the tread besides him. The bowl of soup was a welcome reprieve from the cold, thin or otherwise. His stomach made what some men might consider an embarrassing gurgle, although if it shamed the sharpshooter he hid it well.

    "Thank you," He offered politely, and lowered his lips to the rim of the bowl, rather than taking to the spoon that had come with it. James hadn't ever been very good with women. He couldn't get a read on them, and he wondered sometimes if they were having entirely different conversations than the one he thought he was having. Even so, the presence of the young woman urged him to say something. Anything. He broke his eyes away from his sidelong glance to peer into the bowl. Sips of the heated liquid gave him time to think.

    "How long's it been since the Resurgence, for you?" 'The Resurgence' was what topsiders called Shelters malfunctioning and forcing their occupancy out into the hostile world. Tact and patience James might have had in the field, but here he had nothing to shoot.
  10. She raised a brow as he sipped from the bowl and then a quick smile, leaning down next to him on the balls of her feet to talk to him. "Its been long enough where I'm forgetting life before all this..." She muttered. Her voice wasn't sad about it. She's learned to make peace with it ages ago in order to survive. Her voice was just matter-of-fact about it and acceptance.
    She looked over his stuff and reached out and picked up one of the guns he was working on when she came up to him, running her hand over the cold metal and observing it. "We don't have any weapons here.... Stupid, huh? I'm always afraid a child is going to shoot themselves. And with all the hormones raging in that place, we wouldn't need to worry about the robots, we'd be fighting each other." She didn't know why she was making small talk with him. Probably because it had been some time since she really conversed with someone and seeing how he was a stranger, she didn't know anything about him. Which tickled her curiosity more.
    "How long has it been for you?" She asked, laying the gun back down and rubbing her hands together to warm them back up.
  11. James was very careful to keep an eye on the sidearm as the woman picked it up. People that didn't live around guns regularly rarely had the proper appreciation for their dangers, and he certainly didn't want to go out because he let a pretty girl play with his pistol. Of course, the refraction tube that served as the barrel wasn't in, so the likelyhood of any lethal rounds going off was slim, but he was still a long way away from anybody who could repair the thing if it was fired without the refraction tube. When she set it down again, he sipped from the soup once again.

    "When people were making these," He said, allowing a hand to indicate the shelter with an idle gesture, "They weren't thinking of arming survivors. Only to keep them alive within. And buying upgrades." He added, a tone of bitterness entering his voice. "Although I can't imagine going unarmed in a place like this." he added, before polishing off the soup. He set it down on the tread beside him, before finishing the reassembly of his sidearm. It went into a thigh-holster, and he snapped a button-clasp over the grip to keep it there.

    "My resurgence was ten years back. A flaw in the programming shut down the air filtration, and pumping systems. I was fifteen." He paused to sip from the drink. "Why's The Squint after this place, anyhow?" The Squint was a rather unkind name for the nearest of the warlords in power. He was reknowned for having one eye, face disfigured by an a misfired sidearm, and a a cruel sense of justice.