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Shadows in the Light

“Silence could be a beautiful thing in its own right” Mikal thought to himself as he reached above him, gripping hold of a lump of ruined rebar as he hauled himself and his equipment up the side of a ruined habitat block. The building itself sat amongst several of its kind, a sea of decrepit ruins dotted across the territory for as far as the eye could see, low rise blocks of warehouses and what had once been bustling trade markets clinging to the bottom of each like roots of a tree.  This one in particular had lost the top few floors to fight with time and age; as they had collapsed in leaving a high plateau of debris from which one could view the surrounding territory with impunity should one have the aptitude to scale its heights. Or at least that was how it had been the last time he had clambered up the southern face to the floors above some months previously, utilising the remains of an elevator shaft and half caved in stair well to reach the mid levels, before slinging his gear over one shoulder and attempting the approach to the final levels above via the network of hand holds and over hangs that would allow him progress to his goal. The territory itself held nothing special, having housed thousands of families before the fall and now homing various bands of squabbling bandits and scavenger clans that eked out a meagre existence in the ruins away from the major cultures that occupied themselves with their incessant rounds of wars and peace making that made for humanities existence now. Mikal smirked as he hefted himself up another level, grabbing hold of the lip just ahead of him to haul himself up into a ruined kitchen, the wall having collapsed and fallen away some age before. Pausing for a moment he unbuttoned a pocket on his trousers and pulled out the monocular he kept stored there, panning it out across the territory before making a log of the various small fires he could see at distant intervals. Working as a scout for the various mercenary bands that fed of the constant bloodshed was good business, contracts could come from anywhere and anyone, even other mercenary bands and often paid well. He grinned popping the monocular away as he looked for his next step on his climb, crossing over to a ruined window on the other side and hoping out on to the iron grating of a creaking set of escape ladders, already clambering up the rusted metal before he’d even registered his own movements as the familiar route mentally kicked in as he passed level after level of ruined rooms and picked over carcasses. He never worried about running into mutants or anyone else for that matter this high up as you would often tell if they were around by the smell often enough, or in the case of harpies that rousted in buildings like these the sound of their leathery wings and incessant screeches would tip you off before you found your head being torn from your shoulders. Scavengers weren’t brave enough to make the ascent usually and if you ran into the odd loner giving them a quick bit of room usually worked well enough he mussed, otherwise his side arm was within easy reach and an extra bonus on top of his pay was a nice little bit of side trade anyway he chuckled as he reach the final platform, a sloped piece of concrete leading higher up from where it had come to rest, the rest of the ladder having snapped clean off and fallen away with whatever had brought the floors down in the first place. Putting his pack down by a half exposed stanchion Mikal cross over to his favourite spot and sat down, his log note sat to one side as he dangled his legs over the edge, panning his monocular out across the ruins before him once more. Nothing much took his fancy as he carried out his work, what exactly the tempestus were interested in didn’t bother him having carried out odd scouts runs for them before, the sarcastic sergeant he’d dealt with having just told him to keep an eye out for anything beyond the usual whatever that meant. Mikal was good at his job mind and the tempestus paid well so he was happy with an easy run scanning further to the east on a final loop, stopping for a moment Mikal stood up and scrubbed the lenses of his monocular clear to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. The great pair of sealed doors that led to the underway docking bays were open, a gathering of individuals moving out in a column from the doors as he watched from his vantage point. The group; whoever they were, had some significant numbers to their force  as the column expanded to reveal a few larger transports carrying something on them, that in of itself wasn’t that odd as the Cellborn clans to the far west utilised motorbike mounted scouts but the sheer force of foot mobiles spreading out in a defensive ring as the column moved forwards was impressive when matched to the trio heavily laden transporters. Keeping his eye on them Mikal noticed a singular figure in a long formal coat stood watching the progress of the column from the central most transport, another figure at their shoulder in military gear hoping down and gesturing, the people around responding quickly and efficiently, an officer of some kind or leader Mikal thought as he reached down for his note log only to find it missing. “Where did...” He looked round before feeling something cold pressed to the back of his head as a feeling of static ran across the back of his neck as the infiltration rig disengaged a fraction before the back of his skull imploded. The corpse toppled off of the top of the ruined habitat to fall the 300 metres to the tarmacked floor, hitting with a wet smack leaving a single figure standing in the half light above looking out at the column. “Target eliminated, observation points cleared and contained, proceeding to next position” the figure spoke in a rough accent into the throat mounted radio, an old scar bisecting their lower face across their mouth. The radio piece in their ear squawked with interference momentarily before a voice responded; the figure on the transport raising a hand to their shoulder mounted radio “Understood, keep our observed presence to a minimum Phalanx, Command Out”, silence once again claiming the ruins... 

Summary:

Not everything is as quiet amongst the ruins as it might first appear to the uncaring eye. Shadows emerge from their long forgotten hides and take form in the light, whilst forces unknown appear and disappear amongst the former colony evidently eager not to be seen or to have their passing marked by untoward observers. What part they might have to play in the coming months and possible years is yet uncertain, but the cultures of the ruins can be sure on one thing, they might not see the shadows but the shadows see them...

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