Bottom Feeders

We stand here still breathing. At last the day draws to an end. After final bloodshed, the time of the rending is over.

Marcos found the activation panel for the security system in the sector. The sound of wild fire fights are replaced with the gentle hum of electricity.

It was a big task. Now they were the like the Starmen, and everyone as far as they could drive would answer to that fact.

No machine left on Earth existed by our hands. When the Starmen left, so did the knowledge of their creation and repair. A sorrowful and dark time ensued, violent, and murderous. It was a vacuum so powerful that it imploded everything that was left.

It disintegrated the humans, and now a one people, were many. The Axelars would say they were one, but I knew too well then to trust their faith.

Blinded by their love of the tech, they could not see it, they could not feel it. The pain was not there from love. The hungry death of our people had not been a gesture of love from the Starmen.

They were better than us, but even worse they knew it. Their absence now, shows only a great contempt for the rest of us. One people…

Only my people now, only they mattered. It was a new chance to live. Live in a way that they had never dreamed.

No machine remaining was built by our hands, but they have not disappeared entirely. A machine that is old and strong enough can survive. Like a strong person, only alien.

It was a one way relationship most of the time. If you could find one, then there was the matter of deciphering what it did. If you could do that, then you could usually figure out how to use it as well.

Those two elements combined could bring a great amount of relief to living. But it was rare that you could ever understand a machine like another person.

The Axelar teachings pushed this idea. Lies, unless it was within their function, most would not speak with you. And even then it would relate to their function.

You could look at them. Stare at them where you think their face would be. Their sensors or what have you, and they just kept going, thinking, working, sensing. Most defiantly, they ignored you.

“All the systems are reporting green Terral.”Marcos reported.

I grinned from my seat.

“Good, drain the 3 series tunnels, and make some room around us for the commons.”

“Yes Terral.” Marcos studiously began working on the control terminal.

I stood, stretching my sore and beaten arms. I gazed at the shimmering barrier at the end of the large chamber.

“Are the security protocols set to kill unknowns still?”

Marco turned from his work, “Yes, we should probably let it run for another few hours. It can sweep up any stragglers, or reserve forces they had.”

“I agree, when get we get coded in? We need to send a dispatch to gather the commons, if the Axelars can’t get at us here, they will seek us on the outside.”

Marcos flipped through some incomprehensible screens, “We’ve got you and I, and five others coded in, everyone will be in by 8:00.”

I nodded, and paced around the chamber. The sodden and fatigue faces of the men watched me with a glazed over attention. It had been a risky gambit, the bodies of the old occupants lay strewn in their gore across the room.

“Let’s get these cadavers out of the room okay? No one leave until the coding is finished, just through them through.”I ordered.

I chucked a leg through the glimmer of the phasic barrier. The others slowly followed suite, rumbling into action like a worn diesel engine.

The red glowing sensor of a spider drone appeared on the other side. It rolled the limp around in its sharp claws, until it disposed of it into a drainage causeway.

The carrion brought them out in numbers. Dutifully they disposed of the bodies in similar order.

They had raided a water treatment center. It was vaguely like a sewer that they could build, but the sophistication, as with any starmen tech was unmatched.

The Axelars here had failed to utilize the center’s built in security measures. As a people they had great faith in the tech. This served them well in many ways, but faith can be blinding.

One of the old Starman facilities, it had been built in what Marcos liked to call “The Disruption”. They had best been able to pin this disruption at a few centuries before their exodus from the planet. It was a time where sabotage had become a threat to their way of life.

The Starmen responded to this in the usual fashion. All the facilities built during this area where equipped with self maintaining security systems.

The Axelars had been ignorant to this fact, using it merely as a place of fresh water. It seemed like a relatively low value target to them, so the defenses were not the usual fanfare of machines they employed.

I had led all the men of the commons in a night raid, blasted our way to the control panel. With Marcos help, we initiated an old security response protocol.

I lost a good dozen men, but what we gained in return was worth it. Clean water, shelter security, and most importantly easy access to the city above. The facility snaked through the entire city. The Axelars always edged them out, because of their relationship to the machine, and thus their access to weaponry.

The few pulse guns and other star tech we had broke often, but now all that was changing.

“Coding is green Terral.” Marcos said finally.

“Alright Wyrm Guard with me, we’re going to meet with the commons.

I want a few patrols securing food and other supplies through out the tunnels. Marcos is my hand while gone.”