The sun had just come off the horizon, literally a few centimeters, but it was already so bright that it was impossible to look at it for longer than a second. The Titans left about two hours ago, but the people in the hangar still behaved very cautiously and shuddered from every rustle.
The wind blew a little harder, taking with it a torn off sheet of plating and creating a roar in the street, and thereby He made Scott Little turn abruptly, and his heart began to pound more often. When his mind realized that this was just another gust of wind, he turned back and continued to pursue his business.
He stood opposite the rover with the engine removed. Scott knew that his assembly and installation would take time, and considerable, but, nevertheless, decided to take up this matter. Somewhere deep in his soul, he hoped that the others would follow suit and would not leave Wright one alone on the dilapidated base without being able to get out.
– Hey, Lil! Barked Joe from the open door of the other rover. – You're here, decided to do autism? Wali into the cabin, it's time for us to get out of here.
Joe obviously did not share Scott's views on the current situation. Altruism, or, in Joe's opinion, "autism", he did not intend to engage in anyway, but also betrayal too.
– We can not n-just take it and leave on a single working rover, "Scott said firmly. "We'll either repair it, or at least warn Alex that the second r-rover is not on track."
"Go ahead," Joe said skeptically, anticipating the subsequent reaction of his comrade.
Scott looked into his eyes, then looked at the dismantled engine. Work for several hours even an experienced mechanic. It is not so complicated, as monotonous and voluminous, besides it is very inconvenient to collect the engine alone. Without the help of Joe and the others, the venture is doomed to failure. Scott looked at Joe again, and then turned on his heels and headed for the exit from the hangar. The rays of the rising sun, striking exactly in the passage, created a strong contrast with the darkness inside the room, and it seemed that the exit was surrounded by a halo, like a heavenly gate.
– I would in your place listen to the old Joe, – he heard a voice behind . "You're taking a chance, Lilliput."
"P-gone," he whispered, and added a step.
– What did you say?
The next moment Joe was standing next to a disobedient fellow and holding him by the collar of a jumpsuit.
– Repeat what you said?
"We must warn A-Alex."
– What you said?? – Joe ran out of patience. Lilliput determined this by the spray of his saliva on his face.
However, his voice was calm.
– I said – you went.
The next moment he felt a serious shortage Air in the lungs, as well as the fact that new air can not enter there. It seemed that Joe was only slightly punching his solar plexus, but that was enough to make Scott fold in half in greedy attempts to grab at least some oxygen with his mouth open. After a few seconds, which stretched out in his mind for an hour, he still managed to inhale. Next to the rover, he saw Tom, Peter and Andy, who only looked with sympathy at him, but did not hurry to help. Of course, and with the repair of the second rover, they will not help without the written permission of Joe.
"You are taking a risk, Lilliput."
He knew he was risking, but he hoped that the rest, seeing the protest of the smallest and weakest of them, finally find their masculine head in their pants and gain their own opinion. But this did not happen.
– Now we'll proceed to the rover, Scott, and leave this base, – a smile played on Jo's lips, and he began to speak as if the level of his intelligence was more than one hundred conventional units.
Without waiting for an answer, he lifted him by the collar of his overalls and put him on his feet, and then slightly pushed him in the right direction. Scott took a few steps, then stopped and looked around at the rest of Joe's group members.
– And what are you talking about? Do you really care that we, the k-team of m-mechanics, get out of the base, putting a hefty bolt on our n-direct duties and not repairing the second rover? P-betrayal smells.
Joe put his hand on his shoulder and opened his mouth to say something.
– We would have managed in an hour! Scott's voice rose. – Come on? Andy, Peter? Tom?
They were silent, and Andy and Peter only occasionally cast a modest glance in the direction of the rover. Finally, Peter picked up his determination and took a step, intending to say something, but immediately got a crack from Tom. The latter was smaller in size and obviously weaker, but, nevertheless, Peter did not answer him, for fear of Joe. He did not want to get under the breath, so he went back to his seat and looked down.
Joe laughed unnaturally and disgustedly
– Why do I always have to teach you Tom? How much can you say – always think only about your ass, because in addition to yourself, no one will think about it.
Tom smiled back.
– And you, Andy? Joe asked the silent friend. – What do you say?
"We need to save our asses, Joe," he answered after a pause, causing a smile on his leader's face.
The latter raised his hand and consistently bent three fingers on it.
– My dirty fist – this is us. I, Tom and Andy agree that we should get out of here, and as soon as possible. And since we have a democracy, then, according to the results of an open and voluntary vote, we will do so.
"All right, we'll fall," Scott replied irritably. "But at least we'll warn Alex."
"If you've forgotten, Lilliput, he himself sent us to hell and told us to dump."
"But he does not know that we'll fall on a single rover.
Joe leaned in and looked into his eyes.
" And that's just his problem, "he whispered. "I already did him a favor." I do not do more than one service per day.
Scott looked at him questioningly, not understanding what he was driving at.
– Here, look, – Joe pointed a finger at his chin. "You see this bruise?
Of course, there was nothing there because of the stubble and dirt acquired over the last night.
" He hit me, "Joe explained," and I did not His beat in return. Because I do not beat women and children, but the blow is like a girl's. But, nevertheless, I did him a favor, ignoring his nervous and certainly inadequate lunge.
Joe thought for a moment, putting his hand to his chin. Scott wanted to argue that he himself was guilty and provoked a blow with his behavior, but he continued the thought:
– Although you know, Lil, you're right. I am in such a wonderful mood that I will do him another favor. We'll leave a full ammo in his rover – so he can defend himself while he builds the engine.
Scott stood still and did not know what to say.
– And now he's alive in the rover! – Joe grabbed him by the collar again and pulled him along.
Once inside, Scott occupied one of the seats and watched the others take turns following them and also sit down. Joe was the last and closed the door behind him, and then climbed into the cockpit and took the pilot's seat, in parallel throwing out Andy, who took the next seat.
– Lil! Scott heard Joe's voice. – I want you to be my co-pilot.
He got up and silently squeezed into the cockpit. He knew that Joe should not continue to worry. In the end, Scott was worried that because of his desire to help Reitnov, he could have been with him on the destroyed base – of course, having received a substantial portion of the cuffs.
Yes – he stayed on the Alpha, He could have helped Raytnov to assemble the engine and, perhaps, they would have had time to finish before dark, and then spend the night in a bunker, but something inside Scott tied him to Joe. The fact that that rare cretin is a fact known for a long time and tested in practice a great many times. But Scott did not have the opportunity to just stop talking – both of them were mechanics, and whatever one may say, they had to work together every day, and out of this some kind of affection was poured out. Sometimes Scott even thought that Joe, in general, could be a good guy if he was not such a shit.
Scott took the place of the second pilot, checked all the systems and, convinced of their complete Serviceability, turned his head and nodded. The rover moved smoothly and left the hangar. Reutnov, who was walking past the bunker of the bunker, followed him with a glance-Scott saw it through the window of the porthole-and continued to clear the debris in search of survivors.
The fork from which it was possible to go to other bases was a hundred kilometers to the north -the east, and the road to the fork lay through the forest. The road ran along its edge for some time, and went inwards on a hill a few kilometers from Alfa. From here the base was seen as in the palm of your hand, and, looking at the scale of the devastation, it could be assumed that it was attacked by some fantastic and immortal monster, or even a whole company of them. However, this assumption was not far from the truth.
Joe stopped the rover in the same place where the road turned into a forest and began to twist between the mighty, but quite far apart trees. He brought a map of the area on his monitor and began to study it.
– Where are we going, Joe? Asked Tom from his seat.
He continued to study the map and responded after a brief pause:
– There is a fork, from which you can go to other bases. Before the fork a hundred kilometers, from it to the Delta – hell knows how much, so to hell with the "Delta". The military base is also to the devil, despite the fact that it is only a couple of hours' drive – it has been abandoned for more than 50 years, and we will not find anything there. So we are on our way to "Port Demetrio", and before it, guys, almost two thousand kilometers.
"Two thousand," Tom whistled. "Maybe we'll go back for the helicopter after all?"
Joe turned and looked at him pointedly. Of course, Tom completely forgot that the helicopter was mercilessly crushed by a radio tower, a broken titan that night. And Tom remembered that it was better not to ask idiotic questions in the future.
– We're going to the Port of Demetrion, "Joe concluded. – If you have another opinion – be undermined by him.
He turned to the pilot's panel and chose the arrival point.
"The itinerary is built. Before arrival, one thousand nine hundred and eighty-one kilometers. "
– Listen, Joe," Andy's imposing voice came from the back of the rover. – Since the road is so distant, can we leave for a while? My legs are already numb, and I also want to pour a little.
Scott smiled slightly, remembering his blunt and guilty look in the hangar when they discussed the fate of Wrightnov. And now this guy quietly offers to go out, pee, and go on. Most likely, he has already forgotten that there are other survivors besides those in this rover who may need help.
– The plan is good, and therefore valuable doubly, – approved the idea of Joe. – Because usually valuable thoughts you have as much as a chicken's teeth.
– What? Andy did not understand.
"I say that's what we'll do." I would also relax before the track.
He opened the door of the rover, squeezed past Scott, just in case of a purely preventive slap in the face, and got out. Without becoming particularly bother, he immediately unzipped his pants and set to work. Andy, who got out of the rover after him, gave a short laugh and called Joe handsome, but still decided to go to the bushes and pour like a decent man, hiding his jet from others. Or maybe he just wanted to shit.
Tom also decided to get out, but before that he prudently captured the machine from the counter. Once next to Joe and seeing the fruit of his creations immediately before leaving the rover, he laughed and also said that he was none other than the real handsome.
– It was here when I came, I swear – Said Joe, and at the same time there was a loud volley, signaling that from now his bowels are free from accumulated gases. "Why do you need a gun, if you just went out to see how I cast it?"
– Here, like, like, wolves are found.
"Come on," Joe said, waving his hand. – Have you seen at least one in three months?
Tom looked at him like an idiot.
– In three months I did not see the titan, if you think about it. After all, I'm not that lucky son of a bitch like you, so I'd rather be safe.
– Oh well. Shoot something at least you know how?
As a response, Tom preferred words to the action. He took a quick look at the nearest tree and pressed the trigger. Naturally, nothing happened, since the machine was on the fuse, and this caused Joe stormy emotions.
– Give it better here, – he said, without ceasing to laugh, and snatched the weapon from Tom from his hands. "Or else you'll shoot Andy while he lays his larvae there."
– By the way, where did he go?
"Somewhere in that direction," Joe said, waving his hand forward, "I did not really follow, I was busy with things much more important."
"Andy?" – Tom shouted.
In response, there was a silence. The smile began to slide slowly from Joe's lips, and he tightened his grip tightly in his hands, never removing it from the fuse, and then ducked into the rover and threw it toward the cockpit:
– Lil, cut the radar.
Scott did not take long to wait and immediately followed the order, while being surprised that it was only now that he was able to turn it on, and not before going out. Probably, many considered wolves a myth, since they were never seen. However, the radar was clean and said that in a radius of one hundred meters there is not a single large animal.
– Andy, your mother! – Tom shouted again.
Peter, dozing off at the back of the rover, woke up from these screams, but did not go outside and followed the developments in the porthole.
– Maybe his hearing refuses, When he is busy with this business? – Tom laughed, but somehow unnatural, with tension. Despite the fact that the radar readings were satisfactory, the comrade's silence caused some alarm.
"Hold on," Joe said, handed him the gun and plunged into the rover.
He squeezed into the first pilot's seat and transferred the radar to the colonist detection mode. Of course, the point that designates Andy's receiver was thirty meters from the rover and did not disappear anywhere. The radar made a monotonous intermittent sound, notifying the detection of all five sensors.
– So what the hell is he silent? Joe asked Scott nervously, although he certainly did not know the answer.
Then Tom's loud laughter rang out, and then his head appeared in the doorway of the rover, and he reported:
– Andy just Got on the link. He said that he was wearing nettles and asking for something refreshing.
Joe took a deep breath and rolled his eyes.
– I always knew he was the dumbest of us. He's even dumber than me, because I would not have thought of pushing into his crevice what it was not clear.
Scott took a pack of napkins from the glovebox and threw Tom, while for some reason mentioning that they contained an extract of chamomile, Causing a new fit of laughter at the latter.
– To be as tender as a baby's, – they heard his retiring voice.
Joe frowned – this stop already took more time than He planned. He wanted to be as far away from the ill-fated Alfa as possible, where the Titans first appeared before the human eye.
Joe did not yet know that they are everywhere now, and moving to such a considerable distance is a bad idea. No one else knew this.
– Cut this crap, – he barked and while he turned off the radar, continues to publish an annoying sound. – These clever men have two minutes to return.
Andy stood in the bushes and breathed deeply, trying not to think about the pain and severe discomfort brought out by seemingly unremarkable grass, like leaves Plantain. The burn did not appear immediately, but now Andy fully felt all his colors. He has already cursed himself for a short-sighted decision a hundred times and decided not to follow his thoughts in the style of "fit in size – that means you can use it." Still, the burn on the arm is one thing, and the burn in a known place can deliver a little more unpleasant sensations, right?
He heard a rustle behind him and already let the inner gratitude to the Almighty, when it dawned on him that the rustling was coming from The side opposite the one where the rover was.
– Tom? He insisted uncertainly.
Hundredths of a second in his head Andy saw a cunning plan for the next ten seconds – that's how much time, according to his brain's calculations, was required to run to the rover. План был весьма подробный: сперва, конечно же, необходимо было натянуть штаны, причем крайне необходимо было пренебречь застегиванием пуговицы, ширинки и ремня – функцию поддержки штанов в районе пояса возьмет на себя левая рука, в то время как правая будет активно двигаться вдоль корпуса вперед-назад, а ладонь будет рассекать воздух, как у профессиональных спринтеров. В общем, Энди необходимо было спасать свою задницу – теперь уже и в прямом смысле.
Он мгновенно приступил к осуществлению своего плана, но что-то остановило его после первого же пункта. А именно – приглушенное рычание в нескольких метрах позади. Энди, держа, как и планировал, штаны левой рукой, медленно развернулся на месте и увидел внушительную черную фигуру с горящими глазами, а затем почувствовал, как рука наполняется теплом и влагой. Рычание повторилось.
– В здоровом теле здоровый дух, – сказал Том, который все еще находился за кустами и принял рык за что-то другое. – Даже Джо так не пердит, как ты.
Энди крепче сжал штаны и хотел крикнуть Тому, чтобы тот не подходил, но язык не слушался его. Спустя секунду Том уже стоял рядом, держа салфетки в одной руке и оружие в другой, при этом вопросительно смотря на товарища. В сторону волка он даже не посмотрел.
– Что, само прошло? – спросил он, глядя на натянутые штаны Энди, а затем обратил внимание на его странную позу и прикованный к чему-то взгляд.
Том проследил направление и выронил салфетки из рук. Он медленно потянулся к предохранителю, и тут услышал голос Джо со стороны ровера:
– Валите оттуда, там волк!
Энди будто ждал лишь эту команду и тут же сорвался с места. Том так и не смог нащупать предохранитель и опустил взгляд, чтобы найти его. Казалось, эта заминка стоила ему целой вечности, и он слышал, как волк ринулся в его сторону, но не знал, успеет ли прицелиться и выстрелить. Наконец, он поднял глаза и одновременно с этим начал вскидывать автомат, при этом почему-то думая, что неплохо было бы поднять упавшую упаковку салфеток.
Энди услышал позади себя глухой звук, как будто кто-то упал на землю метров с двух-трех, а затем раздались чавкающие звуки. Выстрела так и не последовало.
– Может, стоить все же включить радар? – спросил Скотт.
Джо молча последовал его совету, переведя радар в режим обнаружения крупных животных. В радиусе ста метров не было никого. Джо бросил взгляд на часы – прошло уже почти две минуты, но ребята все еще не вернулись. Он уже собирался выйти наружу и прокричать, что они идиоты, и что он намерен уехать без них, как радар вдруг начал издавать тревожные сигналы.
«ОСТОРОЖНО! Рядом крупный хищник!»
Скотт вздрогнул от неожиданного и практически незнакомого звука – он слышал его всего пару раз, когда они тестировали систему обнаружения на одном из роверов. На радаре отображались две жирные точки, которые приближались из глубины леса. По скорости и целенаправленности движения не было причин сомневаться, что это волки.
Джо сорвался с места, схватил со стойки другой автомат и встал в дверях ровера.
– Валите оттуда, там волк!
Он выскочил наружу, но не стал отходить далеко от ровера, позволив инстинкту самосохранения выполнить свою задачу. Даже с автоматом выходить на двух волков – идея сомнительная.
Однако, после некоторых колебаний, он все же рванул вперед в попытке спасти товарищей. Скотт увидел это и ужаснулся, но отметил в где-то в уголке своего мозга мысль, что не хочет, чтобы с Джо что-нибудь случилось. Как и с остальными.
Далеко убежать Джо не успел – спустя пару секунд из кустов показался Энди, который совершенно забыл свой план и перестал держать штаны, активно работая обеими руками. Как и следовало ожидать, штаны быстро спустились и мешали бегу, а затем Энди в них запутался и начал падать. Но не успел – в полете его перехватил вылетевший из кустов позади него волк и вцепился в шею, создав кратковременный, но весьма красочный кровавый фонтан.
Джо моментально прицелился и спустил курок, предварительно сняв автомат с предохранителя – однако заряд плазмы лишь задел волка по касательной, слегка подпалив шкуру и заставив того на краткое время ретироваться. Джо подбежал к телу товарища, но надеяться на счастливый исход не пришлось – тот лежал на груди, но голова его была повернута вверх, практически оторванная от туловища мощными челюстями. Из артерий, уже не пульсируя, вытекала темная кровь и образовывала все более внушительную лужицу.
«Вот дьявол!», – пронеслась мысль в голове Джо. Вдруг он услышал шум ломающихся веток впереди и быстро поднял глаза, держа оружие наготове.
Он увидел второго волка, но тот убегал в чащу леса, держа что-то в зубах. Что-то красного цвета и по форме отдаленно напоминающее человеческое тело – вне сомнений, это был Том.
Джо бросил быстрый взгляд вокруг и начал спиной двигаться по направлению к роверу, и когда до него уже оставалось не более трех метров, развернулся и в два прыжка достиг двери.
– Закрывай! – заорал он, оказавшись внутри, хотя в этом не было необходимости – Скотт и не думал медлить.
Питер помог Джо подняться, но тот лишь отмахнулся и направился на свое место первого пилота, завел двигатель и вдавил педаль в пол.
– Они м-м-мертвы? – тихо спросил Скотт.
– Они мертвы, – ответил Джо, а затем бросил на него быстрый взгляд. – Мне жаль, Скотт.
Питер растерянно поднял лежащий на полу автомат и поставил его на предохранитель. Маршрут был построен – они держали путь к главной базе планеты – к базе с названием «Порт Деметрион». К базе, с которой можно было бы вернуться на родную Землю.
Буду рад видеть всех в группе вк 🙂