Midwinter Hype Post #3

They had followed all the protocol.  Appropriately scavenging what clothing they needed, using the local money in the proper locations to secure food and passage, and even arming themselves just enough to look more dangerous than stupid.  It had served them well, and the plan had been well conceived as far as they were concerned.  Each step carefully plotted in case of emergency.  Each move planned beforehand so as to move freely and without being questioned.  They were on the last leg of the northern trail, and had taken the turn east to Mill City two days back.  The trails were covered with snow enough to cause a bit of slow travel, but by and large they hadn’t disappeared.  Everyone had been able to keep pace and, as best as anyone could tell, they were on track and still making good time.

It was a night like most any other for the last few, and it wasn’t any more pleasant.  They had left the last town – with a warm bed, a fire, and a hot meal – at least six days back, but there was a quiet debate that it may had been seven.  Everything else had been cold, salted meals and water.  No fires, no luxury.  The only thing to look forward to was the next day in front of the last, when they all hoped they would be closer to their final destination.

“Where the hell is this place, anyway?” Chilt had asked on the road, the sun still hanging high in the sky.

“No idea yet,” Raynor had responded, his curt attitude extending well past the confines of the rooms they all had shared for years.  “We’ll get our next drop in Mill City, and then we’ll have a clue where we end up.”

The thought that most everyone had on their minds was simple.  Emergency protocols were a pain in the ass.  Everything had taken a turn for the immediate shitter, and this little band of misfits were the only ones left to carry out their final orders.  They weren’t thrilled about any of the circumstances, but they knew what was at stake all the same.

Everyone had started to hunker down, getting as close to each other as they could.  There would be no fire, and there was no tent to cover them.  Only the gear that kept them warm, and a hope that no one had underestimated the weather.  They had made it so far.

“What the fuck Droz, kill that light!”  The voice was disembodied at that point, but the unmistakable glow of a light shone on the man’s bearded face for a moment and disappeared.

“It’s only a smoke.  Piss off,” Droz said in reply, grumbling a few more words under his breath.

Raynor prepared to have them all cut the shit, knowing full well everyone was getting a bit testy after being on the road this long.  He didn’t have time, as the thud in the snow accentuated the need for quiet all too well.  The small party scuttled around the fallen man.  Droz, with his precious cigarette, lay on his side as a small pool of red formed from the shaft of a pole lodged firmly into his chest.  A fine, high pitched whistle preceded another thud, this one more metallic than the last.  Another projectile had landed not far from their sleeping circle.

“Go, now!” Raynor hissed, shoving people onto their feet as he took off at a sprint northeast, angling slightly to keep the sense of the road as best he could.  He pointed off in the distance at a house tucked away, flickering between the trees as he ran.  “There!”

He turned, leading the group, and hoping that the glint of light he saw wasn’t too many windows.  They’d likely need to barricade the place quickly.