10. A Plan to Survive

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Madoc ‘Lucky’ Lee and Kyanna ‘Artemis’ Orsei had just returned from a patrol and were the last to sit down for dinner. As the tall Artemis took her place, Lucky leaned his recurve bow against the wall. Even when in a safe location, he always kept the weapon within reach.

Lucky knew they would be eating some fresh vegetables tonight; the diminutive but resourceful Valinda ‘Seeker’ Vasquez had foraged them from several abandoned properties the previous day. He soon realized that Maverick ‘Thug’ Jones had combined these with some tinned produce and brown rice to make a big, steaming pot. The hulking former gang-member and ex-prisoner used a ladle to distribute the food onto a dozen plates.

Despite the unlikely circumstances and this unlikely collection of people, things had settled into a routine now: Mou-Man ‘Gadget’ Ko had cleared a space at the rear of the ATS auto shop and this was where they always gathered for the evening meal. Gadget sat beside the other older member of the group, Sergiy Vovk; the two had known each other for many years.

For the first few minutes, the Survivalists ate in silence. Lucky reckoned everyone enjoyed their food more these days because it was in short supply. The meals generally developed into informal discussions and it was usually Gadget who started them. The unassuming but gifted mechanic was the fulcrum of the group in many ways; respected and liked by all.

‘Monday tomorrow,’ he said as he pushed his empty plate away. ‘Fifth week since … well, you know.’

‘We are fortunate,’ observed Sergiy. ‘We have shelter, security, provisions.’

‘Still don’t know what the hell’s going on though,’ said Thug.

‘We know the government doesn’t want us to leave San Lazaro,’ replied Seeker.

Lucky found some of her conspiracy theories a bit much but he respected her tracking and foraging abilities.

‘We’d like to get out to the edge of the city again,’ she added. ‘See if we can learn more about this energy field.’

Artemis nodded as she finished her rice. Lucky knew that the women were in a well-established relationship.

‘I can’t stop you,’ said Gadget. ‘And I’m as interested in that thing as you are - but maybe there are other priorities.’

Lucky agreed. ‘There are only a few of us. We need to find more people; offer guidance and encourage them to join us. Strength in numbers.’

‘Not that many people left to round up,’ said Thug. ‘You’re out there every day, you know how it is.’

‘We just have to look harder.’

Sergiy spoke up again. ‘Given the dangers on the streets, four weeks is a long time. It is probably safe to assume that anyone who has survived to this point is either in an unusually secure location or with a group like ours.’

‘Not sure there’s any group quite like ours,’ said Lucky with a grin. ‘And yes, I know there are other groups – that cop and his friends, for one. But there must also be individuals and smaller groups scattered across the city. We need to widen our search, find as many as we can.’

‘That’s risky,’ replied Gadget. ‘I agree in principle, Lucky, but perhaps we should consolidate first. If we do take on new members, that’s more mouths to feed.’

‘A logical conclusion,’ added Sergiy.

‘However,’ said Gadget, ‘it seems that you guys are still keen to get out there, gather information and more members if you can. So here is what I suggest: me, Sergiy and Thug can take half of our group - stay close to the base, concentrate on security and building up our supplies. Lucky, Seeker and Artemis can take the others - go further afield, recruit if possible, maybe try and find some answers .’

Thug and Sergiy offered nods of approval.

‘Fine by me,’ said Lucky.

Seeker, Artemis and the others clearly agreed.

Thug stood up and began collecting the plates.

Gadget held up a hand and addressed the Survivalists. ‘But whichever team you’re in, work together and stay frosty. I don’t want to lose anyone.’