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Guiding star 7

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A short prayer, during which machine guns were staring into the windshield, seemed like an eternity to Ochre. The woman was seated in the chair with her eyes squeezed shut, and her face covered with her hands. The Seeker was led out of the trance by three deaf knocks on the cabin glass.

— I’m sorry I frightened you. Traps are triggered automatically, but it’s safe here now, you can go out, — there was a man with a gray beard in front of the car. One of his eyes glowed red, and the upper part of the skull was covered with a metal lid.

Confused, Ochre smiled tightly, covered her face with a bandage, hid her head under the hood and only then opened the cabin.

The Hunter’s shelter was located in the smallest building of the industrial complex, only the sheds were smaller.

— This place has the biggest basement. And it was the only place where I could park the “Eater”.

Cash stood leaning on the armoured car, and smiled broadly. The room was filled with boxes of paper, spare parts, wires and tools. A mattress was carelessly placed in the corner, with scribbled sheets of paper scattered around it as well. Next to the armoured car there was a monitor which displayed images from the cameras around the plant. There was a dense smell of engine oil and welding in the room. Ochre took off her hood and tightened the bandage on her face.

— It smells unbearably here, right? — Cash grinned. — I’d like to feel it very much, but recently I stopped feeling any aromas and even taste of food. The hunter loses more than his memory. Looks like I swallowed too much dust in the Wasteland. It’s time to start wearing the mask, like you do.

— I thought you’re not going to remember me.

— I can’t quite recall your name, — Cash smiled. — But I made a record about our meeting and it even reflected in my memory. Amnesia stopped progressing, but I don’t feel any better. As you can see, one notebook is no longer enough. Insanity catches up to me.

The hunter took out a rubbed notebook wrapped in cloth from behind his bosom and, scrolling through it, leaned over the largest box in the room.

— It was here somewhere here. Now the notebook serves only as a reminder of where certain parts of my information storage are located.

— It’s Ochre, — the Explorer helped Cash. — You don't have to look for those records. I’ll ask you to tell me about recent events.

Without giving any answer, Cash continued to dig through his box until he pulled out a thick folder, the edge of which was burnt.

— Fine, Ochre. I know where the Ravagers came from this time.

The Hunter seated the Seeker on the largest of his boxes. He poured oil from a large red barrel into the lamp, lit it up and sat down on the same barrel.

— It’s okay, — Cash said grimly at once, looking the woman in the eyes. — If we’re going to die, it’s not going to happen because of the barrel’s explosion. I believe in fate.

The man with a grey beard hung the lamp on a cable sticking out of the ceiling in front of him and began to quickly study the sheets in the folder, scanning them with his red eye.

— The traps you fell into are placed here because I’m hiding, Ochre. I saw your ship on the radar and fortunately, I managed to shut most of them down. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking right now, — Cash began. — Recently I heard about the destroyed “Dawn’s Children” squad near the Mortuary. Of course, when I got there, everything was burned down.

Ochre, not taking her eyes off Cash, took out a notebook from the folds of her clothes and began to make notes.

— Will you give me the coordinates?

— Patience, Seeker.

Cash dug into the papers again until he found a piece of map with the red markings on it and handed it to Ochre, who quickly navigated it by turning the paper upside down.

— According to the “Waderkvarn” documents, one of the corporation's largest laboratories was supposed to be located there, but the project was halted.The Order studied this area, and they didn’t manage to find anything.

—Me neither. But hunters are famous for their ability to wait.

Cash went back to the barrel, took the folder and flipped the page. At this time there was silence in the basement, broken only by the sound of drops falling somewhere and the creak of a pencil in Ochre’s notebook.

— For a few days the Wasteland was silent. But at one moment the sand a couple of hundred meters away from me began to crumble. A gangway emerged from under it, and something started to climb on it... creatures.

The Seeker stopped writing and stared at Cash with fascination. Emotions on her face expressed confirmation of her most terrible guesses.

— The machines immediately headed for me. Looks like there was a surveillance system in there, and they knew I was there right away.

— But why didn’t they just wait? — Ochre was surprised.

— Ravagers opened fire almost instantly. They have become much more unpredictable than before. And they got new modules. I didn’t have time to put my systems on alert and barely made it out of there. I think they wanted to destroy me by catching me by surprise. They seriously damaged my armoured car with their weapons, but Scar AB had a long-standing debt to me, and he paid it back with parts. But that’s not the most interesting thing about my story, Seeker.

Cash’s face turned the color of the metal plate on his head. He closed the folder and looked at the fire in the lamp.

— Among the armoured vehicles controlled by robots, I noticed one big oddity. From the main mass of the Ravagers, there was a very familiar transport, it was moving at a distance. Red armoured vehicle on vertical jet engines, armed with plasma emitters. I met its creator before. Hell, what was his name...

— Was it Lloyd? — Ochre asked impatiently.

A flickering red light illuminated the basement along with the loud sound of the siren. Cash ran up to the monitor very quickly for an old man.

— Were you followed?

The hunter switched the screen to the radar and stared at it for a long time.

— My apologies, Ochre. It’s just a very big bird. The traps malfunctioned, like they did with you. The hunter must be as careful as possible.

Cash turned off the alarm and returned to the conversation.

— Right. Where were we? Oh, yes, Lloyd. That’s right! I never liked him because of his mania.

Ochre made more notes in her notebook.

— Have you managed to find any weaknesses in the new versions of robots?

— The scientist did a good job on them. If I had even one exemplar, I could get something out of it.

— I have some data on their defense systems.

Ochre stood up and shook hands with a hunter, giving him a flash-drive. Cash returned to the monitors again.

— Something can be done about it, but there’s still not enough data.

— Stay in touch, Cash.

— Can you bring me a real Ravager?

The slammed door came in response. After a few moments, Ochre’s armoured car left the territory of the plant.

Continued: part 8 >>