Red, blue, and gray. Those were the colors of this city now. The once blue skies no longer answered to the sun, transforming them into a permanent gray. Blue was for the remaining survivors of the city. Many of us were downtrodden, saddened. Red was for the obvious; blood. After the Descenders came, our forces fought back as best they could. While they successfully took back our city, it was left in ruins. The city divided into factions, and bloodshed ensued thereafter.

The colors also represented the factions that took the city. The Blues (known formally as the Azure) kept control over much of the city’s north side. My sister, Katrina, and I were born into a Blue family. We once wore our blue bandannas tied at our arms but no longer chose to do so. Our Section was raided a few years ago by the Red Riders. They claimed our Blue territory for their own. The fighting (much of which was petty bickering and turf battles) hasn’t stopped since. We never took back our Section but have taken other Red territory.

Many of us Blues were hunters and gatherers, originally charged with seeking food for the city. Our parents taught my sister and I how to use a gun and a blade long ago. I preferred the blade because it didn’t require a reload on ammo. Katrina preferred the gun. We both learned how to scavenge for leftover ammo from the War.

The Red Riders (the Reds) were the salvagers. They ran the city’s central district. They were the biggest rivals of the Blues, since we fought over the borders of the north and central districts.  Like many of us in the younger crowd, I never understood why we couldn’t just share. Our city laid in ruins from a war with extraterrestrial beings but we couldn’t overcome our need to dominate.

The Grays ran the south side. They were another story. While the Blues and Red Riders remained at one another’s throats, the Grays pretty much stayed away. There weren’t many of them left after the Descenders decimated the south side. Because the south side was such a heavy battleground, Descender tech was left in heavy quantities. The Reds were salvagers, while the Grays were mechanics and communicators. I hear they’re still working with Descender tech, figuring out their ships and communications systems.

But now, watching their headquarters, I could barely hide my contempt for the Red Riders. I hated them for valuing their allegiance to their faction over the needs of the city. I didn’t even know if I could truly call myself a Blue anymore, they were just as bad. But my anger could wait for the moment, I had a family to feed. Our first order of business was to get past the River.

“On my mark,” I said to Katrina. We crouched by a bush at the far end of the barren and dried river, nearest to what was once the lake, watching them ride their motorcycles—salvaged from wreckage and powered by leftover tech from the Descenders—into the mouth ripped open at the side of the rusted old wrecked cargo ship; Red Rider headquarters.

“Go,” I said. We took off across the dried, massive crevasse that was once a flowing river. The ducks in our pouches would satisfy our dad and younger sister. Ducks were a rare find.

In my head, I could hear the revving of motorcycle engines. I felt a nervous pang in my gut at the thought of what Red Riders would do to trespassers, never known any who lived to tell the tale. Then something rushed by the both of us. The revving wasn’t in my head. I swore under my breath, drawing my blade. Heads would roll before me or my sister died. Luckily the Red Riders didn’t have our firepower, they mostly used blunt objects.

There were three of them, armed with rusted pipes. Two of them were off their bikes, charging our way. Katrina didn’t hesitate to open fire on them both. One went down instantly, I drove my sword into the other. The third threw off his head covering and whistled, loudly. We knew what that meant; he was calling for help.

Katrina couldn’t afford to waste another round on him, so we ran as fast our legs would allow. More engines revved in the distance but we didn’t stop or waste time holstering our weapons. We reached the other side, climbing into the sewer hatch that made our first trip possible.





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