A Court For Crows (Part 3)

Gunshots in the distance. Omoi pinged their location on a basic guess rendering of the surrounding city, combining my own memory with her brief scans and images of the area (taken from my eyes).

Jay stopped cold and paused, flicking his gaze around. He pointed at the same time I did. “Rifle fire,” he muttered under his breath, shooting a furtive glance in my direction. “Must be Fey Slavers. They’re not supposed to get this close to the city…” a worried lilt to his voice.

I didn’t blame him. I didn’t even want to know what a fey was, and I knew what a slaver was.

From the rising building in the distance, small black forms departed. Crows, swinging in.

Proper crows, not like the half-man beast standing beside me.

How did that even work?

“Then come on, let’s go around it.” I’d just gotten out of the cryopod, I wasn’t ready to go straight into a grave.

“Whatever you say, Warden,” Jay replied, turning his path. Angling far away from the conflict. The map marked several locations around us. Ancient advertisements from when the businesses had paid to be in the system popped up. The Mcdonalds down the street would be having a Friday Sale; like it always had, despite being crushed under a mighty oak tree. The forest floor was littered with ancient rusted hulks of cars, covered in bushes.

And the remnants of an ancient dozen car pileup, probably caused from the nuclear bomb’s EMP.

Jay didn’t let it stop him. He leapt on top of a smaller car, then sailed clear up six feet in the air from a jump to land on an old semi, half eaten by rust and kudzu. Then he sailed over to the other side.

I ran my tongue across my dry lips and stared at the wreckage. Chance of contracted a disease from the metal was high, so maybe…

Omoi illuminated Jay’s approximate position on the other side of the pile up for me, a floating blur in my eyes.

“Warden, come on, catch up,” Jay said.

I scowled at him, and took a cautious step up onto the hood of the car.

We had agents to deal with this sort of thing. Or we used to have agents to deal with this, to take care of field objectives so me and my kind could focus on equations, devilish things.

The car hood creaked under my step, letting out a threatening noise, and I sprang up to the next car in line. The glass cracked, fell inside.

Then I leapt to the next one, and slid. Arms flailed about, desperate to keep balance and-

The side of the road had collapse some time ago; we were really sitting on a skyrise, twisting far above the ground, held in place by sturdy construction and the series of trees that the road was tangled up in. Across the way I could see the menagerie of the ancient city. Slumbering. Dead. It didn’t dream. No eyes left in windows destroyed by the passage of time.

No lights left on, defiant, burning.

Humanity had ceased here.

Vertigo took over, and I yelped, toppling forward towards the edge.

Jay swooped in and caught me, tugging me out of the rat’s nest of cars and setting me back on the road.

“You know, for a Warden, I was really expecting you to be better at this.”

“I just woke up,” I scowled at him, “Ask me about anomalous bands of radiation from distant stars, and I’ll tell you about their effect on gamma radiation and their diminishing effect on atomic half-life length.”

Jay blinked. “I don’t really know what that means.”

I paused, then grit my teeth. “Thanks for catching me.”

Then I stepped past him. The skyrise tangled up with the building in front of us. Prime Nest awaited.

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