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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2286995
WON: Chapter One: A post-apocalyptic survival story
The sky was blue, and the dust storms were far below the tree line of the mountainside where Jeremiah was standing. His view was of white, fresh mountain snow. The air was nearly clean enough to breathe, and he could see green on some of the trees below him, indicating that life was returning. The electrostatic precipitators had done their job well, filtering out the dust and making the atmosphere fit to breathe again. It should have been a good day.

         Jeremiah was a big man, a child from after the apocalypse that had ended the old world. Strong, tall, and with broad shoulders, he wore a black breather and a white camouflaged snowsuit like the others in his team. He carried a rifle slung over his back and was on skis. He surveyed the scene before him with some shock and dismay, yet also the military discipline commensurate with his rank, relaying what he saw back to headquarters in the clear, precise military language he had been trained in.

         "Headquarters, this is Captain Roberts in Sector 4, First Squad recon; we have contact, footprints in the snow, four travelers, and three separate contrails in the sky. Awaiting orders."

         "Roberts, this is Headquarters, please repeat. Did you say footprints!?"


         "OK, please standby."

         It took a minute before the orders came through on the radio. There was a short burst of static followed by a voice. The voice on the radio was not military, and Jeremiah recognized it as one of the female administrators.

         "The contrails are ours, drones from the main base. You are ordered to track the travelers and hold them for questioning if possible. If there is any risk to your men, you take them out and then bring the bodies back to base. We need to know who these people are, where they come from, and if they are part of a larger group. How could they have survived all these years unknown to us?"

         There was a pause, and when no more words came from the silence, Roberts replied.

         "Copy that."

         He signaled the four men in his squad to follow him as they turned their skis onto the trail left by the footprints in the snow. As he did so, the full ramifications of his discovery started to sink in. This meant that the underground city he grew up in, deep in the Rockies, was no longer the only place in which humans had survived the asteroid strikes of thirty years ago. These travelers had survived the dust storms and ice age that followed the disaster. This discovery meant that they were not alone.

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