Abandoned Akkaba port, Sinister Empire, the region formerly known as Kangnyong

The sun broke over the horizon as the silence of the morning was broken by gunfire.

Schultz would in that moment regret bringing Mohlen along for the mission. He was a good fighter, and from good blood, but with matters of stealth he was less than reliable. His clumsiness gave away their position before their bullets had, and the rebels gained themselves a few seconds. A few seconds made quite the difference, allowing their guards to take position, and their off-duty personnel to scatter to cover. Mohlen, in a bit of poetry, was the first casualty of the battle, taking a bullet square in the face.

Not that Schultz was bothered. They were the superior men, and therefore the superior fighters. Just because their surprise had come moments earlier did not mean there was no surprise. The advantage was theirs in more ways than one. Soon after Mohlen’s death the rebels suffered a casualty, and then another. They were on the advance, their foes retreating. Schultz let loose a round, hitting a woman in the neck. Instead of dying, she grew in size. They had a Hulk, or an Abomination rather, based on the transformation. Schultz grinned. He appreciated a challenge.

Mia hated to run, but she wasn’t too foolish to understand when the situation called for it. Woojin had rallied the retreat, while Kurtis’ squad stayed between them and the front line. They were to retrieve what supplies they could before the guard’s ranks broke. A few said prayers for the Guard, but Mia appreciated their sacrifice silently. It was a brave thing, to give your life for others, for a cause. Good men were dying.

She zipped the hazmat suit up over her regular clothing in the shelter of a dark alley. They would not stay in the port any longer: their advance to Haeju would be happening now, and that meant a trek through the nuclear wastelands. Hardly an ideal scenario for such a treacherous journey, but the choice was between that and dying with the Guard. With luck, they’d reach the city before their ambushers caught up with them. The only thing they knew for certain was the port was compromised. Leaving the alley, Mia saw Woojin floating a bit above the rest of rebels. ChoA and Kurtis stood on his crates next to him, the former glaring at Mia as she approached. ChoA always glared at her.

“My boys got all the stuff we’re gonna get,” Kurtis said. “We better move now.”

“We don’t have the food here for the expedition we had planned.” ChoA spoke before Woojin could reply.

“So we’ll have a shorter expedition,” Mia had not been invited into the conversation, but volunteered her opinion anyways.

“I agree with Kurtis and Mia,” Woojin said, and then raised his voice so that all the rebels would hear. “Listen to me! Soldiers, follow your squad leaders. Squad leaders, follow me.”

Officially speaking, Mia was neither a part of a squad, nor a squad leader herself. She joined up with Kurtis’ group as they made their exit from the port through a side gate. The land before them was barren and dry. Nothing that they hadn’t dealt with before, but it wasn’t the wasteland that scared them. They all hoped that Haeju was empty of hostiles, but by no means was that certain.

They cast long shadows in the light of the sun.