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Another night passed by. Was my family worrying about me? I would likely be feeling even worse, except I took a dose of RegenX. The was far too soft for this kind of treatment. The Perco had been sustaining me to this point, but I’d be running out of supplies by tomorrow. Then, I would begin to start to suffer. I was nothing like Raven, who was able to remain strong. He hadn’t eaten in two days, and the sun burns all over him were starting to peal after two days of exposure. Yet, he remained lucid.

“Something is happening.” He muttered under his breath.

I hadn’t been paying attention to my surroundings, but once he spoke, I looked around and found that there did appear to be some kind of movement happening. People were running back and forth fetching stuff, and there seemed to be some commotion.

“What are they doing?” I asked.

Raven didn’t answer. He typically only spoke when he wanted to. Since I had gotten him trapped in this cage, he hadn’t forgiven me. He only said anything because he was bored, annoyed, or mindful. If it came to a friendly chat, such a thing didn’t exist.

As I was watching the commotion grow, my Perco buzzed with a message from Kiera. I cautiously looked at it while looking like I was adjusting my position.

Randall is leaving soon. He’s taking us both with him.

Kiera sent me such an update, but a message like this only made me feel more helpless. What was I going to do? I was still trapped in this cage. Knowing that something was happening wasn’t the same as being able to do something about it.

A few minutes later a group of people emerged from the building. That wasn’t quite right. They were actually on the second story of the building, which hadn’t been finished yet. This created a perfect stage where they could be seen. There were ten of them in all. This must be the group known as Ascension. There were three women and seven men. Among those men, at the lead, Randall. There was a thumping sound, and I saw the power-armored Chief swing down from the ledge and plop right in front of the group. Ascension looked at him with admiration, but everyone down below looked at him with fear.

I hadn’t been looking, but once again, Chief had managed to enter the armor without anyone seeing him. In fact, I hadn’t seen his face yet. However, the appearance of Ascension, and specifically chief, had caused everyone to leave their camps and tents. In only a few minutes, a crowd of raiders had formed at the base of the building. Those from the clans watched from the comfort of their buildings, but they felt just as anxious as the clanless raiders below.

“Free men and women of Argos city, I am Chief.” A husky voice cried out, amplified by the power armor to make the voice feel booming.

Some people let out cheers or claps, but the majority only watched cautiously, waiting for whatever he had to say. This was the first time Chief had spoken directly to the raiders, so it naturally left everyone curious.

“Over the last few weeks, we have suggested that power is within our reach. Soon, we will no longer have to live off the scraps of the wastelanders. We won’t have to become slaves to the colonists. We won’t have to be complacent to the governments that wish to steal our freedom. We will soon have the strength to conquer Argos city. What I need are those who are willing to stand by me and take it! You have all been chosen. You will fight beside us, and you will be rewarded!”

“Saying you have power soon is suggesting you don’t have power now! Why should we trust you?” One man shouted.

This elicited several others to shout out similar sentiments. They were tired of waiting, but their protests quickly quieted down. The Dragon Claw had lost interest and look what happened to them. They had made their move, but the consequences were severe. That’s why these people would only shout their discontent and wouldn’t push it further. It was all for a show. When push came to shove, they wouldn’t dare go against Chief, not while he had that armor.

Chief held up his hand, and all the mumbling immediately silenced. “Your question will be answered tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will show our true strength. Tomorrow, you will no longer question how long. You will only ask when can we start!”

A few men burst into cheers, but the vast majority only shook their heads and muttered to themselves. There was no point in arguing though. Everything would be decided by whatever show of power they had. For me, that naturally immediately made me mindful of Kiera’s message.

Raiders were ones for long speeches. Since Chief said he’d provide evidence tomorrow, then that was all there was to say. Their group returned inside, and the crowds quickly dispersed. We were once again left to bake in the cages.

We’re leaving now.

I got such a message from Kiera, but it didn’t mean anything. They were heading to the same location that had gone the day before. I watched as Randall, Kiera, Katarina, and the other members of Ascension left. Only Chief stayed behind, his armor reappearing on its balcony to continue to intimidate anyone who had thoughts of fighting while they were gone. As long as Chief remained behind, no one would question Ascension’s power.

Whatever power they felt they could obtain, it had to be at that location. Was it the colony? It could be, but would they only use ten people to attack. I imagined colonies were better defended than that. I felt that I must have been wrong. There was something else there. It was something valuable. I started to feel hungry again. I pulled out more food from my digitizer. Just as I went to take a swig from a water bottle, my eyes fell on Raven’s back.

I’d be out of food by tomorrow. This was the wasteland. Only a fool shared. That’s when I heard a whiny little mewing sound. I looked to my side where I was hiding my food while I ate. It was a direction that put my back to the majority of the raiders in the camp. Standing right there was something I didn’t expect to see again. It was the little murder dragon. It had somehow managed to avoid the destruction of their camp and then snuck its way over here. It was looking up at me with begging eyes.

“Are you kidding me?” I muttered under my breath.

It slipped it’d head through my cage, which was all it could get. It looked up at me and let out another whining voice. I tried to hush the beast by grabbing its mouth, but it nipped me and then threw an eye toward my food.

“I’ll be starving by tomorrow, and you want a portion of my food!” I snapped.

It stuck out its tongue and panted, looking up at me with bright eyes. I gritted my teeth, and then a moment later I opened up a can of tuna and put it in front of him. The murder dragon began to eat it happily. Maybe, it would be able to grow big one day and eat all of these raiders. That thought brought me just a bit of happiness. When it finished eating the food, I poured some water into the leftover dish, and it happily lapped it up. After that, it looked over at the remaining food from my lunch.

“Hey! I need that.” I growled at the murder dragon. “Ah, wait!”

After I snapped at it, the murder dragon had spun around and suddenly ran away. It had a bouncy way of running, its powerful lower legs allowing it to quickly escape behind a tent. I called after it a bit louder than I intended. I had fed the thing on a whim, but the presence of the ugly beast had made me feel better.

“So, you’re the colonist.”

I jumped, spinning around to see a raider I did not recognize standing there. Thankfully, my body had been blocking the food, so he hadn’t seen it, but it still gave me a spook. My heart was beating a mile a minute. Did he see the murder dragon? I don’t think he did, or he would have reacted to it. Even if it was a baby, no one would let that thing wander around.

“I’m… not a colonist…” I responded.

“You’re not a colonist? With those pearly white teeth and that clean appearance? My men have a bet how long you have before you break. I put in for a week. On the other hand, it looks like your companion here is in the worst shape.” The man turned to Raven. “Have you been sucking off the tit of a colonist so much that you can no longer take a little discomfort?”

Raven moved forward, hitting the bars threateningly. A man who had come beside the talking one, stuck out a stick. It hit Raven, and an electric spark erupted, causing him to fall back with a cry. This elicited some chuckles among the men.

“How can I help you?” I asked as calmly as I could manage.

“Help? From you?” The man smiled. “Absolutely nothing. However, here’s the thing. You cost me that slave the other day, and that Perco. I don’t like being fucked with.”

He held out his hand, and the man who had shocked Raven gave the stick to him.

“Wh-who are you…” I tried to move to the back of the cage, but there was nowhere to escape. “What do you want?”  

“My name is Krux… leader of the Burning Fist.” He turned the stick on. “We’re going to have a bit of fun.”

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