Grendel stopped firing soon as the gigantic mechanism started to sag. She stooped to pick up her brass and then walked down the bank. She found Alyce kneeling next to Evans. He had a contended smile on his face.
“he knew he would die here. Said he dreamed of it. Here help me turn him over”
She pulled out a knives that looked like it was fashioned from a shard of an ceramic reentry shield, she started to cut into the corpses back. All the while humming to herself
“there we are! The patternerns will need that back if they are to get him back”
She held up a small cylinder
“you are the unit medic, should you keep it?”
She flicked her wrist and curved blade morphed into place. She cut the turf open and then unfolded her entrenching tool, began digging out a shallow grave for her friend.
[March 22nd, 2331; Robyn’s Manor, near Bude, Cornwall, Earth]
Apart from a buzzing cloud passing a few kilometres away that Not Lily identified as the carriers of a nanite swarm, the Spring equinox night passed quietly after their brush with the Woe machine. They trudged through bog and heath, mostly desiccated and crumbly underfoot as if a forest fire had sweapt the headland. The restless sound of the sea was never far away and the salt smell made a refreshing change from processed ship air even if it was tainted by the sense of this being a dying world.
As they made the final approach to Robyn’s manor it was clear that the ravages of two centuries, not least the end of the world, had done considerable harm to the once genteel structure. It looked like it had subsequently been picked over by scavs and it was unlikely that they would find functioning infrastructure capable of reaching high orbit… but there was always the chance that they could piece something together…
“I sure hope your safe room is still intact, because everything else seems to have gone the way of the dodo.”
Isaint commented when the ruins came into view. He was still a bit numb with the heavy losses they had suffered. There was a reason he had preferred working with only small crews – less casualties all around. But then, you couldn’t expect a blind woman to come and fetch him all by herself.