ON THE SCENT

Scene 16  1560 4D

“Oh, man, this is slow.” Bunjaian called the wolven back again. “We’ve been over this trail and beside it and into all the caves. Why can’t these doggies work faster?” He shouldered his beamer again, right where it chafed his skin under his City uniform.

“Stop calling them that,” Jaman snapped. “They pick up on your tone. And your words.” He straightened his ArCorp knit hat and called to the canines, “Tiri, Siri, Willi, Walli, come back to me. Come.” Out of the swirling snow the four hulking wolven came up to him, nosing his foodpack as he gave each a strip of soft meat. He scratched each one under the jaw and behind the ears. “Good work,” he told them. “Now, downslope!” He pointed ahead on the trail, and turned to Bunjaian. “Patience, buddy. We’ll find him.”

“Chasing a deserter in the snow. I shouldn’t have signed up for this.” Bunjaian grumbled. “My toes! These boots are trash. I don’t hear you complaining – Arlen’s corp takes good care of you guys.”

“Don’t dig too deep on that,” Jaman spat, “They give us orders that would kill you in seconds. I lost my partner that way.” He stared away for a long moment. “Not all the andros run. Just be glad we’re not after any of them.”

A howl brought them stumbling down toward the wolven, The four animals stood before a low cave opening. The two men led the way in. The leavings of a party littered the cave. “Aha,” said Jaman. “Progress.” He picked up a scrap of cloth and held it for the canines to inhale. “This should speed things up a little.”

Bunjaian surveyed the litter. “There were a lot more than two people here. Refugees, I’d guess.”

“It looks that way. Get ready for a bigger payday. Wait.” Jaman reached down and brought up a dark-purple smear. “We might have a problem.”

“What?”

“This is andro blood. Recent. This guy may be traveling with an andro.”

“So? Probably serving him.”

“Come on, you’re not that dumb. Andros only come out this far when they’re free. Out here they’re kept strictly in the mines, and they’re all watched by the hawks – the mine guards. This one is a fugitive. That makes him dangerous, and we’re not andro hunters. We’ll need to send back for the Hounds.”

“He must have followed that soldier we’re chasing. It’ll take time to get back and get in touch.”

Jaman pondered, and finally said, “If we stick to our own orders, we’ll stay clear of any andro. All we need to do is catch this AWOL soldier and bring him back. Nothing else, understand? If any andro gets in the way, we break off, go back, and report so the Hounds can deal with it. Agreed?”

Bunjaian nodded. “That’s perfectly fine with me. Getting dead is not in my plan.”

 

Next scene.

Last Updated Friday, June 21 2024 @ 02:32 pm  16 Hits   
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