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Guiding star 8

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— The water is so cold, — Foxy thought while looking into the muddy mirror that hung over the rusty sink. — I'm surprised it’s so nice and quiet on Ochre’s ship during this heat.

The girl washed her face with cold water, and then thoughtfully looked at her eyes in the reflection. A moment later, a rat jumped on the edge of the sink and, dipping her head into the water, climbed up to Foxy’s shoulder.

— Do you still think we can do this, Bunny? — the scout smiled sadly.

The rat’s face rubbed against the girl’s cheek and the animal immediately slipped away, splashing Foxy with cold sprays.

— Bunny! What’s up with you? — Are you dying of heat too? — Foxy said, wiping her face with a wet sleeve.

— Are you having fun? — frowned Ochre was standing in the aisle. — We’ll arrive at the destination soon.

— I really don’t want to get out of here. The stuffiness gives me a terrible headache, — the scout replied grimly and took Bunny out of the sink - the invisible rat was certainly not happy about it. — We'll be up shortly.

Ochre opened her mouth and raised her hand, as if she was going to ask something, but changed her mind. Foxy didn’t notice this, since she was playing with her pet.

— The Wasteland taught me that asking about oddities directly is the greatest oddity, — Ochre chuckled to herself and went up on deck.

The Seeker’s ship was entering the Abandoned town. The ground here was lavished with funnels and craters, like the face of a smallpox survivor. Ochre still remembered such cases. In addition to craters and blackened house frames, the ship was surrounded by piles of parts and destroyed armoured vehicles. The remains of the Ravagers were among them as well.

— Foxy, you were right! A lot of these creatures met their end here. The only problem will be to find parts that are intact.

The scout didn’t respond, and Ochre, after a short pause, headed for the hold. But she was stopped by the feeling of a stare in the back. The Seeker looked around. There was nothing suspicious. Except, of course, for the fact that everything around them was a cemetery of robots and naive bounty hunters who decided to test their strength against the machines. Blaming the grim landscape, the heat and the empty orbits of the long-abandoned houses for her anxiety, Ochre stopped the ship and descended into the hold. Foxy was nowhere to be seen.

— We’re already here. It’s time to get out. We don’t have much time.

There was no reply. Having descended one more level down, Ochre heard a quiet rumble in the workshop and opened the door there.

Foxy was standing on her knees in front of the workbench. Her head and torso were hidden under the table.

— Fox! We have to get going. There are lots of Ravagers out there.

The girl twitched in surprise and hit the back of her head.

— Sorry. Lots of dead Ravagers.

— Oh, what a day, — the scout answered from under the workbench. — Bunny jumped out of my hands and disappeared.

— Maybe you’ll find him later? — Ochre suggested hesitantly.

— Yes, you’re right. I don't know what’s wrong with me today.

— You’re just tired. We will definitely visit the Keyhole on our way back.

— And again you will talk to everyone instead of sitting next to me, — Foxy said, smiling and then pouting her lips.

— This time we’ll only drink, I promise, — Ochre laughed.

In the following pause, both women heard a distinct squeaking sound.

— Bunny? — Ochre exclaimed.

— Did you hear that too? —The scout was surprised.

In an instant, Seeker and Foxy were on deck at the source of the noise, which had already changed to a buzzing sound. A drone was hovering near the side of the ship. It immediately swept the women with red rays. A second later, Foxy stood behind an on-board machine gun and shot down a copter with a burst of fire. Ochre was already at the helm and started the engines.

— Are there still living Ravagers here? — Foxy shouted.

— I hope this was the last one.

From the window of a nearby house, a red manipulator eye looked out and swept the Seeker’s ship with rays.

— Shoot it down!

Foxy opened fire, but the house was too far away to hit the target. Judging by the fact that the beams disappeared, the scan was completed.

— If the Ravagers were still here, now they know that we are here too. There’s a larger caliber on the stem of the ship. Get behind it.

Ochre was not mistaken. Having looked around the area, the Seeker spotted several armoured vehicles with red manipulators on their hulls within half a kilometer of the ship.

— Foxy, open fire at 1 o’clock!

having instantly figured out the controls, the scout fired at the target. A force shield appeared in front of one of the Ravagers and the armoured car itself was hardly damaged by bullets.

— What kind of tech is this?... Keep shooting at the others! I’ll lead the ship aside, and you can stand behind the machine gun on the stern. Aim for the red lights! — Ochre shouted encouragingly.

More and more clouds of swaying air, which materialized in menacing machines with soulless red eyes, appeared around the ship. Literally a couple of hundred meters from the ship appeared an armoured car flying on hovers, which immediately pierced the side of the ship with a volley of a plasma emitter.

Ochre turned the helm, and the ship entered a circular duel with the Ravager.

Foxy’s return fire managed to disable the enemy’s front engines. Because of that, at great speed, the vehicle’s nose hit the ground near the ship, the rear engines turned the armoured car over and rammed it into the ground. The shockwave threw Foxy away from the machine gun, pressing her against the back of an iron door. A dense veil of black smoke appeared in front of the ship.

In a moment, the smoke was dissipated by dozens of Ravagers. But that was enough time for Ochre to turn the ship around and try to get away.

— Machine gun at the stern, Fox! Only now the Seeker has noticed that her companion’s lifeless body is lying on the deck and it’s going to fall overboard soon.

The autopilot allowed the Seeker to leave the helm and rush to Foxy, but without an experienced helmsman, the ship became an easy target. The Ravagers used this opportunity soon. One of the Ravagers managed to get close to the vessel and damaged the Seeker’s engine with its Tesla emitter. The ship slowed down sharply and other robots began to surround it.

Under the barrage of fire, Ochre was able to drag Foxy into the hold, and then she returned to the helm. The race is not over yet. Having squeezed the gas pedal as hard as possible with the damaged engine, Ochre led the ship to the exit from the town between two old houses. The passage was very narrow, so she would have managed to get most of the robots off her tail. But at the last moment the Seeker saw the air wavering in this passage. The ship was surrounded.

Ochre was not going to stop and, clutching the medallion of the Order firmly in her hand, did not change course, but increased her speed, intending to break her way out.

When the collision was only a couple of hundred meters away, one of the Ravagers’ armoured vehicles standing in the spath of the ship exploded. The powerful vehicle, having lost one of its hovers, was stuck in the wall. And then it blew up from another explosion.

— Hey, “starred”, I didn’t think we’d see each other again — a voice came from Ochre’s radio.

From the left flank, the Seeker spotted four armoured cars. One of them carried an 88-millimeter “Executioner” on board, from which, apparently, the Ravager was destroyed.

— See how I got that one, Seeker? Will you write about it? Come and join us. These cowards Adam and Flo stayed in the “Keyhole”. My cannon would be covered in rust from such a long downtime.

In a moment, Steve’s armored car suddenly stopped because of the Ravager that appeared nearby, which discharged the Tesla Emitter into the survivor. One of Steve’s friends rammed the robot with spears. Half of his cabin was blown off because of this, but he saved his comrade.

— Great! It’s nice when somebody watches your back — Steve replied again.

The next second, his armoured vehicle was pierced by a volley of guided rockets. The barrel of the 88-millimeter Executioner hit the ground near the Ochre’s ship. The survivors rushed in a scattered manner, distracting the Ravagers.

— I will write about this, Steve,— Ochre whispered and directed the vessel into the Ravager ring that the survivors had torn apart. — I am sorry…

In a moment, another armoured car turned into smoke and a pile of junk. The third vehicle already lost its wheels and was pouring fire on the robots from the ground. The last one was still intact, but the rockets had already been launched in its direction.

After a few minutes, the only reminders of the Ravagers were the smell of burnt steel and the sound of explosions behind Ochre’s ship. The ship was slowly going through the Wasteland.

— They all die for the sake of others, — Ochre said as if in a trance and exhaustedly slid down the wall. — They fight evil. But not because of goodness, but because they just want to earn money. Damn irony.

Continued: part 9 >>

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