Special case. Part three
A noisy dispute disturbed the dream of the Wasteland.
— ...To force clans to cut each other's throats — Engineers shouldn't do that, Duncan’s voice sounded more tired than usual. He was worried about those who didn't care about the Engineers, and it annoyed Jones.
— Your kindness will work against us, — he grumbled. — The more will be neutralized in the process, the better, no?
— Jones, — Duncan sighed heavily.
— Jones what?
— Not “neutralized”. Killed.
— Is there a difference? — Jones squinted.
— There is, and you know it!..
A heavy sigh escaped from Foxy's chest, but the debaters did not notice. Each of them is right in his own way, and she knew it, but they shouldn't have gotten at each other's throats. Too often it ends badly.
A few years ago, a squad of young engineers managed to quarrel along the way. Everyone said something that he would have regretted if he had had time. Separated, they missed an ambush, and Foxy's close friend was killed in an unequal battle. The girl did not even have time to apologize to her.
— ...Duncan. Merciful Duncan, the saviour of all... — Jones chanted loudly.
— Enough!.. — Foxy shouted with a warning. Her palm lay on the rifle butt.
The unspoken law of the Wasteland — if you see that someone grabs the gun, and you do not want to kill him, slow down. Debaters read this signal.
— None of us wants to get dirty with our own blood, — Jones said gloomily. — But we have to strike first.
— Not everyone around you is an enemy, Jones.
— But they can become enemies. And without resources, anyone will go against us. Even Riley, — Foxy said very quietly, raising her head and suddenly freezing. — Heck… We're tearing each other’s throats out, and won't you look at the stars...
Jones laughed, raising his head:
— Like sugar crumbs.
— Maybe Duncan is right... — Foxy spoke again after a short pause, which allowed everyone to pull themselves together. — We can be bastards or we can minimize losses... And we can offer a decent reward. At least we will sleep peacefully.
— Agreed, — Duncan nodded. His shoulders relaxed. — Who knows, maybe our future allies are among them.
— We'll see, — with a smile, Foxy rose and walked away from the fire, whispering. —Bunny, do you feel how the wind smells here? Like freedom!..
— Let's take a break and move on. I'll keep watch, — Duncan said, retreating to the car. Climbing onto the roof, the guy sat back and closed his eyes.
Remains of tension drowned in conversations before bedtime. In the night, when the comrades fell asleep, Duncan silently waited for the dawn, watching the distant flashes of anomalies dancing.
In the morning, the Sun's copper disk saw off three combat vehicles, scribbling the steppe with dust tracks. Duncan checked the map when the general radio frequency came to life:
— Gonna bet who brings the first cargo? — Foxy suggested. — We can promise a prize!
— What can we give away? — immediately replied Jones.
Duncan, who had noticed the box at night, only smiled.