The Lonesome Road

New Friends

She walked through the rebuilt streets looking up at all the buildings around here. She had never imagined that buildings could be so tall, they looked like they could almost touch the sky. She had been out of the vault for nearly a month now and was still getting used to not having a ceiling over her head. She’d lived underground her whole life so seeing this new world was both exciting and terrifying for her but after seeing how life outside had changed her brother she’d decided that it was time she had some adventures of her own.

The Duke’s return had been timely. He’d saved the vault from the invaders and brought taller, mysterious, handsome strangers with him. He had a son now and a lover, they made a nice couple even she had to admit. A nice family. She missed her mother and father, but the new sense of freedom overcame her homesickness.

Atlas’ fall was a city bigger than she ever thought she’d see. She’d found her way here after meeting with a trade caravan which took pity on a girl lost in the wasteland. They were nice to her, never once commented on her mutations, they just spoke to her and tried to help. Here though, in this city, despite all the impressive wonder of it, she couldn’t help but notice that people keep glancing her way. Whenever she met their eyes they looked away from her, either in fear or contempt. Some passing children pointed until their parents pulled them away. She pulled her jacket and hood tighter around her, feeling self-conscious.

She didn’t know her way around. She just tried to find her way towards the tallest most maintained buildings, they would be the centre of the town. If Duke had come through here maybe she could find some of his friends, they could help her out, point her in the right direction and a good place to start was the town centre. Her brother seemed to have a habit of making a name for himself after all.

She cut across a darkened alleyway trying to find a faster route and avoid the glances of the people in the city when a heavy set man in a rough jacket emerged behind an old bin.

“What have we here? A young lady who’s lost her way?”

“There’s a toll if you want to pass through these lands little miss.” Another voice behind her. A thug had stepped out to block her retreat. “There are of course… other ways you can pay. How about you pull that hood down and give us a smile. To start with.”

She was afraid, she didn’t know what to do. The man behind her had some kind of pipe. He could hurt her if she tried to run. Slowly, hands shaking, she pulled the hood down. Revealing her face. The men recoiled from her.

“You’re one of them freaks. A mutant. Mutants aren’t welcomed in our city are they Ken?”

“No way. Mutants round here get a beating.” The man behind her stepped forward, raising the pipe. She put her hands out, shut her eyes defensively and in fear. There was a crash, the sound of metal hitting the floor and a wet thump. The first thug, Ken cried out. “The burned man!” and took off running. The alleyway fell silent.

She opened her eyes slowly. The thug with the pipe lay slumped on the floor next to the bin. Over him stood a man wearing some form of body armour. Beneath that, his head, his arms, his hands, his whole body was wrapped in bandages. Only his eyes were visible.

He took a step towards her. She took a step back. Saviour or not she didn’t know the man. He raised his hand, showing they were empty.

“Relax, I’m not going to hurt you.”

“You… promise?”

“I promise.” He held out his bandaged hand towards her. She took it tentatively and shook it.

“My name’s Princess.”

“Hello Princess. I’m Krogon.”

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John_Baggins

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