Aftershocks (4)

Four-Thoughts Free Militia
Unnamed Bunker
Ruins of Intyev Township
Turbis (Cordai Gap)
(formerly People’s State of Bantral)

The fabber hummed quietly to itself, steam rising from its cooling vents and only a few sparks coming from the lashed-up power lines leading down from the solar foil on the roof. Kilden bustled around refilling the feedstock hoppers, aligning the feed drives for the dozenth time, and engaging in other such busy-work. The others indulged him, which he knew. This was, after all, his miracle.

“All’s clear outside; how is it in here?”

“Good, good! Those replacements you found are working. We’ll be eating well tonight.”

“I found this, too.” The new arrival tossed a wallet of flat plastic chips over to Kilden. “New recipes for your gadget, looks like. Any of these let it make us some bullets?”

“Maybe. If we can find it some metal. How badly do we need them?”

“We’ve got enough for now, maybe, if no-one pushes us, but they say the Kontyev Brigade is leaning towards the Concord. That’ll put them right up against us. And if that emissary of theirs lets word get out about” – he jerked his head towards the fabber – “that, everyone in the region’ll be coming at us. So badly, yeah. If you all are still determined not to join the Concord?”

“Aaah, I’ve heard their song before. Equality and cooperation and collective effort and so long as we’re talking about that, soph, we’re going to need your fabber for the common good, so hand it over and we might give you a fair share back. Since we took it from the lizards we’ve got full bellies – for the first time since before the war. You so keen to be hungry again?”

“No, but – even if we can keep the others back, what if the raiders come back? Or invaders confiscating it – the lizards again, or the deshniki, or the linobir mercs, or – or even the Impies?”

“The Impies? We should be so lucky.” The mechanic gave his comrade a disgusted look. “Don’t be an idiot, Bistot. Did you never listen to the People’s Propaganda? If they told us one true thing about the Impies, it’s that they respect private property!”