Caught in a Dark Alley

The checkpoint passed, we moved through the slums, a warren of half-ruined buildings, wrecked vehicles, and the occasional defunct automech shell. The streets seemed to be empty, but I thought I saw the occasional movement out of a corner of an eye.

It was spooky, and even Jiana seemed to be affected. “What is this place?” she asked in subdued tones.

“Part of the old human city the Marauders didn’t need. They stuck one of their fuel depots in it, but mostly leave it alone.”

The cycle’s comm screen flickered. “I think someone is following us. Several someones.”

And then I remembered why this part of town was unguarded—why Marauders didn’t come out here in less than squad strength. “Escaped slave mechs,” I guessed. “This is where they hide, since they can’t escape the city walls.”

“They must hate the Marauders, right?” Jiana said.

“You better believe it. Why?”

As a dozen robots stepped out of the side alleys in front of and behind us, Jiana said, “Well—guess who we look like right now?”

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