THE DESERTERS

Scene 13  1560 4D

“Talk to me,” Derizan said to Guinban. Just ahead of them, Inkurisar scanned the woods on either side, glancing back now and then when Derizan spoke. “What made deserting your wife and your life so appealing? Why’d you join up with an andro with a price on his head? Your story had better make some sense when we get to this village, or we’ll all be in much deeper trouble.”

His face grim, Guinban spoke slowly. “You know how the Hejjis get all the scum jobs. When this big City reloc was called, they were short of escort guards to keep the people in line on the way out to the Mines. Nobody was to tell the Arcus people under guard where they were really going. The story was about new settlements…”

Derizan nodded. “Yeah, that’s what we were told, all right. Some of us knew it was a lie, but we didn’t know what we could do about it after the trains dumped us off in the snow to march.”

Guinban shook his head and chuckled. “So you knew. We were chasing after a family, up through the storm, through this crack in the mountainside. We’d just passed some others going the other way, back to the line. This woman, the last one, was running back, yelling ‘Nassa!’ or something like that.”

Derizan stumbled, started to speak, clamped his mouth shut. Darvelia – the one I left behind. Oh. God.

Guinban looked at him. “You don’t look so good. Something wrong?”

“N – No. Go on, tell me the rest.”

“Well… I was one of three guards. We were all Hejjis. The blizzard blinded us and we stopped. When the air cleared, I was alone, and I thought, This is bloody shit. I’m not doing this anymore. The other two guys had gone back down. I turned and headed up. That’s when I found this spook hiding above the trail.” He tipped his head towards Piotras. “He thought I was hunting him. He nearly killed me with his bare hands.”

“You were easy prey,” Piotras said. “You’re no andro hunter, not one of Gullinder’s Hounds, that’s for sure. Those people are the spooks, not me.”

“So you two joined forces?”

“It took us a little slammy-jammy-balkie-talkie, but we worked out that we needed each other.”

Derizan looked at Piotras. “Your turn. Talk.”

“When I killed that guy who was beating me, something broke inside me. I knew right then I would never go back to the City. The Hounds came after me, and I ran. I stowed on the reloc train – there were a lot of bunks for the militia left vacant, a whole car of them, actually, and once it was underway I picked and ransacked the gun locker for the beamers and their ammo.”

“Glad you got me one,” Guinban. “The bally rifle I had wasn’t good.”

Derizan asked, “Why weren’t there more soldiers on the train?”

Guinban snorted. “The City and the corpos had their hands full – there’s a rebellion going on, down in there. The relocation was meant to empty out some of the troublemaking colls. Like yours. They must have figured that once they dumped you people out here, they could put more force on the fighters and terrorists still in the City.”

“So, once we’re dumped, we die, and the problem gets easier for them.”

“That’s the way they think. War crime is what I call it.” Guinban spat a hole in the snow. “Hey, Piotras, sing us a song. Something that marches us along.”

Inkurisar looked back at them. “Not too loud. We don’t know who or what is listening.” He scanned the woods on either side.

His voice soft, Piotras began, his three sets of vocal cords weaving harmony.

“Oh, little one, put your feet on the trail,
Listen to your mama sing,
Soon we will come to a sweet little spring,
Where I will tell a tale.”

As he sang, hushed voices from the women and men behind joined in the familiar lullaby.

“My little love, please hold my hand,
And never let me go,
We’ll drink sweet waters and wash our toes,
And walk across this land.

When morning comes, and brings the sun,
We’ll be inside our dream,
With fruits and honey-sweetened cream,
And then we’ll know we’ve won.”

“There!” Inkurisar stopped them, pointed ahead to a lamp-post. “We’ve reached Fornonck. Now let me go ahead to talk with them. If things go as they have before, they’ll be waiting, and they’ll already know a lot about us.”

 

Next scene.

Last Updated Friday, June 21 2024 @ 02:37 pm  17 Hits   
Comments are closed