She had only heard gunshots at a distance. That was before. Now she heard them everyday and had felt more of them than was probably good for her.
The rifle thumped her back as she jogged across the potholed street. Most of this section had been lost in the initial fighting. The buildings were little more than rubble piles with the occasional support beams. Walking through this section was the second worst decision she had made since the fighting had broken out. The turf was claimed by a group known for shooting first and asking questions later. If she was found and thought to be a threat she wasn’t going to last long.
She gripped the dog tags around her neck out of habit, something she did to calm her nerves. Dipping under the roof of what used to be a collision between a tank and a smart car she looked around. The cocking of a gun reached her ear and she dove back under the cars for cover. The shot barely missed her and ricocheted off the bumper of the now sad car. Pulling around the rifle she sighted down the scope to see who had taken a dislike to her. What she saw did not instill her with good feelings, she was outnumbered and outgunned by at least ten individuals. Her best bet was to reason with them, if that was even possible.
“I’m not looking to steal from you.” The guns didn’t drop their positions on her. “I’m looking for someone that’s all. I don’t want trouble.”
“We don’t let rats into our turf.” She swore darkly, in her experience when groups talked it was a sign she was being out flanked and would soon be in great pain. It was the ones that vanished without a word she found more comforting. Flattening herself on the ground she took a shot at the individual she thought had spoken, aiming to scare not kill him.
She probably should have just killed him as the cursing that followed led to several weapon clips being unloaded in her direction. The half decayed tank gave her good cover but several of the bullets ricocheted into her space, grazing her arm and side. The pain frustrated her and made her desperate for a way to calm them.
“Leon Stravky!” The area quieted. “I’m looking for Leon Stravky, have you seen him?” Hopefully they would tell her before they killed her. At least she would know if she had been close to him when she met her end.
“Why are you looking for Stravky?” Hope bloomed painfully in her chest, a reminder of what false trails had left her feeling.
“My name’s Amelia, Leon is a friend, do you know where he is?”
Boot heals slid on rocks and pebbles rolled as a few individuals made their way closer to her. She gripped her rifle hoping they meant her less harm.
Tears sprung to her eyes and she whispered his name to herself in disbelief. Heedless of the danger that potentially stood waiting she scrambled to her feet and walked to the group of four. All had scarves wrapped around their faces to keep out dust. She couldn’t tell which one was Leon.
The man closest to her pulled down his scarf and smiled.
“Amelia, never thought I would see you again. I thought you died in the bombing that took out DC.”
“Made it out of the kill zone before thanks to some inside information. Had to spend a few days hiding in the rubble, even pretended to be dead a few times but I got out.” Every fiber of her being wanted to hug him.
“Who’s the girl Strav?” The other three stood slightly behind Leon but had lowered their weapons at Leon’s relaxed tone.
“I take it you lead this group now?” Amelia had heard this place had recently fallen into new hands but no one knew who it was.
Leon shrugged. “It was that or try to scrape out my own place. Hard enough to do that when you have a group to back you. And this Brandt, is Amelia, Amelia Stravky. My little sister.”
“Glad to see you aren’t dead yet Leon.”
“Same to you sis, same to you.” Amelia smiled for the first time since the bombs started dropping as she hugged her brother.