The van sits in a circle with other similar homes. Although, not all of them built from dead vehicles. There was a central flame pit for cooking and warmth. As Sera and Rebekka prepared their dinner a trail of smoke can be seen moving up through the tent city coming from out in the Wastes. Shortly after the smoke trail stops moving there is an explosion. Being a medic by trade Sera is quick to start making her way toward the smoke.
They are joined by others living in the tent city. By the time they arrive there is a small mob standing behind the B96 guardrails. On the other side was a crashed sedan, it was obvious even from a distance that the vehicle belong to a scavenger. Gear packed away along with a backseat of strange bobbles and a netting over the hood to hold down the rest. Three men stood by the body of a fourth. Clearing the concrete barricade Sera made her way to them. Laying on the ground
Half the man’s body was burned badly. Stranger though was the side not exposed to the blast when the engine blew. Fungus seemed to creep out from the fingers along his arm up across his chest and head. Looking at him it was clear this was not gangrene but something fungal, almost moss like. Showing her medical kit the men who had pulled the body from the wreckage backed away. Despite appearances Sera checked for a pulse but the man was long dead.
Realizing there was nothing she could do to save the man Sera slipped back into the crowd to watch. Not long after the police arrived from Tiergarten, shortly followed by medical and towing. The pair note that Gradient Health Industries treat the body as a biohazard yet when Amertlite Towing arrives to hook up the wreckage like any other junked car unaware of the body’s questionable condition.
Within an hour it was as if nothing had ever happened. Eventually the crowd began to break up and Rebekka and Sera turned to the warmth of the flame pit, dinner and sleep. In the morning it doesn’t occur to them that no one comes out while they go through their morning rituals. Through the day things seem normal enough for Rebekka as she moves through the shops and drinking holes looking for work. For Sera though, things seem a bit colder, even for January. People she knew that needed medical attention avoided her, for that matter everyone seemed to avoid the young doctor.
That night when they slept Rebekka was restless, all she saw was endless highway. On the horizon was a city stacked on top of the ruins of older cities. The road walled in by dead brush and car wrecks. No matter how fast or far she drove she never seemed to get any closer. Waking up in a cold sweat Sera tried to calm her down.
They didn’t really remember going back to sleep but they knew when it was time to get up. Outside a man pounded on the door. As Sera slid open the side of the van a local repair man jumped back looking at he hands. Stammering through he explained that he had heard on the radio that the body of the scavenger had been stolen from the morgue. With a little work the pair was able to get the radio in the van to work tuning into the News-stream FCXS they listened to the rebroadcast.
Strange but Sera couldn’t let that distract her from taking care of those she knew needed help. Scavenging some cut off clothes she went to make her rounds with as much exposed skin as she could tolerate in winter, her patients needed to see she wasn’t infected.
Rebekka on the other hand could not get last night’s dream out of her head. After getting something to eat she returned to the seen of the crash. It was as if nothing had ever happened. Crossing the highway she tried to gain perspective. Everything felt wrong. Crossing again she looked with Lucid eyes. Opening herself to the spirits Rebekka could see the phantom car racing down the highway. The body of the scavenger limp. the spirit of the scavenger raging to stop the car. The scene seemed to be in an endless loop, a memory written in asphalt and blood.
Before she could move she felt a man’s hand on her shoulder, his presence penetrating her. Straining it took what strength he could muster to utter a single phrase: Find me. Then before she could turn, he was gone. Hunting down Sera she tells her about the experience and even if she couldn’t save his life she somehow felt she had to give him rest.
Having worked through the day to restore her name Sera was less than trilled by this but eventually considers to help her friend. Considering the break in getting into Gradient seemed impossible. After a bit of back and forth they decide to check the impound lot. This meant going into the city, something both women had been hoping to avoid. Unfortunately, this was where they hoped to find some answers.
Walking the shoulder on B96 the tent city gave way to petrol stations and strip malls. Buildings began to rise up around them, five stories, ten, thirty, fifty, a hundred or more. They had walked a virtual straight line yet somehow felt lost. Not knowing the city it took hours to navigate the streets of Tiergarten. Eventually they found the lot. A three foot wall followed by an electrified fence and security cameras everything said, hello come on in.
Not really the personable type and still not fully convinced they should be getting involved Sera waited outside. The office was relatively clean, the mechanic behind the desk watched an old episode of Clamjaw on the monitor, switching it over to the list of impounded vehicles as Rebekka entered.
After an awkward attempt t getting into the lot the mechanic takes her outside of the camera’s view letting her know there are easier ways to ask to bribe him. Not having any real money though Rebekka offered up a gold plated watch she had been given. The man snorted but tried it on sending the woman on her way.
It doesn’t take her long to locate the car, rooting around nothing seemed that special, digging equipment and camping gear, nothing all too out of the ordinary. The only thing of interest she could find was a map of the Wastes with what looked like dig sites marked off.
Not wanting to waste a gift on her way back out Rebekka checked for unlocked cars. With a bit of skill she manages to find a rolled up TV scroll, a small prize. Meeting Sera outside the doctor watched as a trio or Audio Punks strutted down the street. A thin spiked Mohawk on the leader spit venomous lyrics about rage and tearing through the garden of the mind.
Feeling more than a little exposed the pair made their way to something a bit more secluded, Unfortunately with no real money this turned out to be a small space under a dumpster. Huddled together they unrolled the television scanning the local stations for any update on the break in and abduction of the body.
There was nothing. Sera knew that couldn’t be right, if a disgruntled employee who blows himself up inside a bank can run for three days surely a possible viral outbreak would rate the same treatment. It was a cold realization the story was being suppressed…