Included with this letter is a package of many spices and herbs that you probably never heard of. I got into contact with many doctors, each one of them suggested that these blends would help break up the buildup of “junk” in your lungs. Yes it’s going to make you cough even more, but this time it shouldn’t be blood but black chips. It might even hurt more, but please, don’t stop taking it. Inside the package are detailed instructions about when and how.
Anyways, Merry New Half-Life! Sorry I can’t be there to celebrate like we use to. Do you have any resolutions for this year? Did you complete all of yours from last year? I know that I have all mine done but one, control over Greyfell. Every day I get closer and closer. I can just feel the power just within grasp. Every day I get more tabs, build more connections. Finally, I’m excited to say that I think I found what I need, the last big push. I can’t tell you much right now encase this letter gets intercepted. Just know that it’ll be soon, soon I’ll have a place for you in this town. Plenty of clean air, not a factory in sight. I’ll have security patrolling around your house all the time, no worries about thugs. You won’t have to work any more so you can focus on your art like when we were little. Soon.
Lastly before I go, I plan on taking some leave so I can come visit you and your fiance. The travel might take long so don’t be surprised if i’ll only be in town for a day or so. More details in the next letter.
Always your loving older brother,
Zulu E. Golf
Excerpt from Log 01/23/2322
It was five miles away from checkpoint bravo when the lead vehicle in our convoy was hit with some kind of explosion. I couldn’t tell you if it was from some mine or a rocket, I was in the last jeep riding passenger. Whatever it was, it completely obliterated the lead. The shock wave immediately afterward shattered our front windshield, impossible to see out of. So it was a complete surprise to me and Lima when we crashed into the rear of the cargo truck we were guarding. After that point, I don’t really remember what happened next, it was all one big blur in my head. When I came to Lima was dragging me by my flak jacket through sand, away from the flaming wreckage that was our convoy. My mouth was caked in fine sand but I could also taste a hint of iron through it. Even if my mouth was clean, I probably still couldn’t say anything besides repeated profanity.
We made it pretty far before the group of bandits that must have attacked us notice. One of them spotted us and started hooting and howling at the rest of his group. The other returned his allert with more yelling. They weren’t even words, just noise, like animals.
There were only six of them total and they all wore the same getup, rags covering every square inch of them (they might have been white at some point but wear and tear must have stained them brown and tan) with comically large goggles covering their eyes. They hopped on some kind of motorcycles (three of them, two per ride) that seem to just skip over the top of the sand like they were floating. Sandskippers is what they’re called, a favorite among these maggots.. We must have been at least a hundred yards out, but they closed that distance in a matter of seconds.
I’m glad Lima could hear them because there was no way I could even cough to warn him. He immediately dropped me, swung around, take out his service rifle, and take a knee. His first shot was the only one he was able to get off because when he tried to fire a second time, the dread “clunk” sound of a jam rang out. At least that first shot knocked down one rider.
Lima was still trying to unjam his rifle when the first motorcycle did a drive by with a bat. Poor guy didn’t even see his death coming. I don’t need to explain what happens to a skull when it get’s hit that hard.
The second sandskipper was driving straight for me, luckily I rolled out of the way enough to not get killed but not enough to clear my arm out of the way. If I could feel anything other than grit in my mouth, i’m sure the pain of a broken arm would have knocked me out.
With one good arm I reached for Lima’s rifle and hoped he had fixed before his time was up. On my back I scrounged up my legs so that they could prop up the rifle and did my best to aim it down range. The first sandskipper had turned around and planning on running me over like the second tried to.
I pulled the trigger and to my own surprise a bullet came out. Missed. I pulled a second time. Another miss. Panic set in and I just pulled as fast I could. Only the last one manage to hit, but only in the shoulder of the driver, just enough to make him jerk and drive past just a foot to my left.
Without pause I took aim at the second sand skipper, nearly upon me. I pulled the trigger, *click*. No more rounds. Eye wide I could do nothing but sit as they closed in. I fear that rolling away at the last second won’t work a second time. Luckily I didn’t have to.
A sea of bullets from over head shredded the second driver and his passenger. Anti climatically they just fell over, limp in the sand. The sound of another set of rounds sounded off somewhere behind me followed by a crash of what must have been the first sandskipper.
Exhausted, I just let my own body collapse. It took a minute before my savior walked up and nudging me in the side with his boot. Looking down on me was a worn down clean shaven heavily tanned face with wrinkles as deep as Kasm. Frowning he barked, “This is Captain Skrogen of Legion 21st Expeditionary Unit. State your name, organization affiliation, and vault identification number.”
All night Zulu was waiting for this moment, a rustle of feathers brushed against his tent. With haste he scrambled off of his cot and tossed away the potato sack he used as a blanket. Unzipping the entrance to the tent took a bit of effort, the teeth on it was starting to rust. Just another item added to a long list of equipment needing of replacing when the next caravan comes around.
Once opened a white dire-pigeon strolled in holding it`s beak high, scanning the tent with a disgusted face, obviously judging Zulu`s living quarters. It kept its distance from pretty much everything sense it all had a layer of light dirt and/or sweat on it. Standing waist high it was easy to read the name proudly stamped upon its custom vest, Vence.
Under one of the lower four wings Vence pulled out a letter from a canister and presented it at Zulu`s feet. Impatiently he reached for it, wanting, no needing to read it now but his hand was pecked away, and hard. Nearly immediately a decent trickle of blood was oozing out and a small chunk of flesh was missing.
With a curse he tossed the tabs the damn bird was waiting for as payment but still it stayed, unmoved.
"Oh you want a tip, alright fine!", grabbing a cracker left over from dinner he smears it in his own blood then flings it to no avail. Before the cracker even made it to the ground, the flying rat took the tabs and was gone, it also manage to leave a present on Zulu`s boot that will take a hours to scrub out. But that was for later, right now his heart yearned to read what his sister wrote.
It wasn't good, the doctor confirmed what they both had feared. The soot and ash from the local factory where she lived were slowly filling her lungs. There was nothing they could do for her their, she needed to go somewhere with clean air and live the rest of her life with no heavy labor. For months Zulu has to keep on telling her next time, next week, next "paycheck", next letter he will surely have enough to afford it.