Enzymic fluids would pass through those needles dissolving my body from the inside out, providing juice for Streetsweeper’s repairs.

Frantic I managed to free an arm and bang my hand uselessly against the console.

The radar buzzed, then pinged. Streetsweeper withdrew his needles.

“The radar malfunctioned?” Streetsweeper was puzzled. Something serious had failed if his diagnostics failed to pick that up. “Lifeform, 300 yards ahead, food.”

Now wary of my mechanical partner I climbed out, arming myself well before edging my way forward between the few sparse boulders.

If the lifeform was only 300 yards away, why didn’t we see it earlier?

As I followed the remote directions Streetsweeper gave me, it became obvious. I was 10 feet away before I saw the feet sticking out from behind one of the medium sized rocks. Marauder pants and shoes. Good. I needed revenge.

Gun ready I moved around the rock. The girl looked exhausted, lips cracked from dehydration.

“Help me,” she said. “They’ll kill me.”

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