Log #210 – Divided settlement

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We came across something unexpected in a settlement. People who took a different path.

After all the turbulence surrounding ENOS, it was good to finally get back on the hoverbike and relax. Our destination was one of the settlements I had found directions to in Dunboro. As we set off, Stanton’s star was just sinking behind the horizon. In its last glow, it colored the evening sky and the clouds a pastel orange. We glided over a green grassy landscape with rolling hills, individual trees and rocks. The mountains rose on the horizon in the pale light. Hermieoth flew ahead of us in the Carrack and showed Chris, Brubacker, Husky and me the way.

I was a little worried about the mountains we were heading for. Kjeld had told me that the drug cartel Forgotten15 was hiding in the mountains of Microtech. Our destination was an unmarked settlement in the mountains. It would be a great coincidence if we found this exact hideout. But it couldn’t be ruled out. I had no idea how the Forgotten15 would react to an unannounced visit. In any case, it was better to be careful.

By now it was pitch dark. Still lost in thought, I steered the hoverbike through the night. Suddenly there was a heavy thud. The sky and ground merged into a wildly spinning dark something. I felt myself whirling through the air and then hit the ground. A few meters away, the hoverbike exploded in a ball of fire.

“Zero, are you alright? Did you ride through the bump without braking?”

I struggled to get up, groaning.

“Oh shit, that was intense.”

“Well, and that was my hoverquad,” Hermieoth stated. “We don’t have a spare bike with us. I’ll land, then you can fly in the Carrack.”

A few minutes later, I was staring into the darkness from the co-pilot’s seat. Together with Hermieoth, I tried to find a suitable route for the hoverbikes through the mountains. At some point, I noticed a red dot of light in the distance.

“Look over there.”

“That’s a position light. Maybe it’s our destination.”

“There’s another one to our left. It seems to be lower down. Maybe in a valley. And there’s something else. What is it?”

Outlines slowly emerged from the darkness. Then the headlights picked out buildings in a green valley. In front of them was an area that didn’t look like grass.

“That’s a plantation,” Hermioth realized.

“Land there. It looks nice.”

Hermioth landed the Carrack right in front of the plantation. Fascinated, I got out. A path lined with tree trunks led through the small plantation. It led directly to a kind of entrance. There were two poles to the left and right of the path, connected by ropes. Rings were hanging from the ropes. We had found the settlement. Like Harpers Point and Dunboro, it was made of scrap metal. But it was much smaller. Two buildings, a tower and several greenhouses where all sorts of things were grown. It was a beautiful, peaceful place. I felt the need to stay here.

However, the residents seemed intimidated by our arrival. They gathered in a group and looked at us fearfully. No one wanted to talk to us. I found a room with a bed in one of the buildings. Someone had scrawled “GO TO HELL KRF” on the wall. KRF was the abbreviation for Klescher Rehabilitation Facility, Hurston Dynamics’ maximum security prison. Under the bed I found a kind of diary. There was only one entry:

We thought we had escaped the tyranny. But it was no better on Hurston. We were persecuted, imprisoned and fought against. Our meager possessions were taken from us. We moved on in search of a peaceful life. But the terror pursued us all the way to Microtech. In the end, we also had to leave our settlement on Microtech and move on.

The Moreland Hills are now our last hope for a life in peace. We want to live in freedom, take care of ourselves and leave the outside world behind us.

Unfortunately, our community has been shattered by the terror. The group around Richard has lost faith in a peaceful life. They have entrenched themselves two kilometers away on the hill. May the spirits watch over them. And may Richard watch over us from up there and be our salvation in the event of the worst fears.

I really hope that the worst doesn’t happen. What we need most now is a good harvest.

I read the text twice and had to swallow. Who were these people and where did they come from? Somehow I felt for them. I knew exactly what could happen to you on Hurston and what it meant to be locked up there. The Klescher maximum security prison was hell. But who was persecuting these people and why were they on the run?

After sharing the text with the others, Brubacker said:

“Come on, let’s pay Richard a visit.”

I looked at the mountain two kilometers away. It stood out clearly against the night sky. There seemed to be a plateau on its summit. A red position light was shining there.

When we arrived on the mountain with the Carrack, we realized that there was no landing site. The small plateau was littered with buildings made of scrap metal, crates, barbed wire and tree trunks and was completely fenced in with metal plates. Two large towers towered over the plateau. Large campfires were burning in several places. The settlement on the mountain was a fortress. I put on my armor again for safety. We didn’t know whether Richard was as peaceful as the inhabitants of the settlement in the valley. At least he didn’t seem to believe in peace. We had to expect the worst.

Hermieoth kept the Carrack hovering. Brubacker, Husky, Chris and I disembarked. We split up and combed the settlement.

Chris was the first to get on the radio.

“There’s nobody here. The place is deserted. Maybe they’re out getting something.”

“Yeah, on a raid,” Brubacker added.

Then Husky was heard on the radio.

“I’ve found something. A lookout point. From here you have a direct view of the settlement in the valley. There’s even a chair here.”

“I found something too,” I said. “Pieces of armor. They’re lying around in the grass here. I’ll take them with me.”

“Zero, really. They belong to someone. You can’t just take that stuff.”

Hermieoth sounded annoyed. He still didn’t seem to understand that it was normal in my culture to salvage and reuse things that were lying around and the equipment of the dead.

The pieces of armor I had found matched the settlement. They were made from various fabrics and metal parts. It was armor made in a pinch from what little they had. These people weren’t Nine Tails, they weren’t part of the corporations, but who were they? I had the feeling that they were no strangers to me. Like me, they recycled the scrap and leftovers of others. And like me, they wanted to live in freedom.

Suddenly there was a loud shout from Brubacker.

“Ha ha. That’s funny. Come and join us. Let’s have some fun. Which one of you can run through the fire the longest?”

Brubacker was completely off his game. He kept jumping through the fire like a madman. Stunned, I sat down on a chair next to the fire. What the hell had gotten into this guy? We had not yet found a way to stop ENOS and had come across a new mystery here in this place. People who were being persecuted and displaced. People who perhaps needed help. But the great editor wasn’t interested. He preferred to play with fire. As if Brubacker had heard my thoughts and wanted to add to them, he shouted fervently.

“Now get undressed and jump through the fire in your underpants.”

It ended as it had to end. With burns.

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