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"Scrap Night"

By Weaver

  

 

Disclaimer: Anyone or anything you recognise isn’t mine. Sage, Nate and the rest of the Hardings are.

Twenty year old Sage Harding walked through the woods surrounding the shantytown where he lived. The sun had set almost an hour ago but he could still make out the shadowy forms of derelict Mechas moving in the dark. Sage paid them little attention; unlike Orgas they posed no threat to him and anyway, they were after the same thing he was. Tonight was Scrap Night, when worn out parts and the remains of destroyed mechas were dumped in the woods. The people doing the dumping weren’t supposed to do it of course, but it was cheaper and easier then taking it to the recycling plant. So the refuse of the better off supported the wood’s unlicensed inhabitants, be they mecha or orga. Sage was off to try and get a jump on the competition, who knows, he might actually find something worth something for once.

 

Hearing running footsteps behind him, Sage stopped and turned. When he saw his cousin Nate he smiled and raised his arm in greeting. Nate was a few years younger then him, just gone fourteen, but he was a good kid, sharp as they come and Sage was fond of him. When he’d been much younger, he’d envied Nate and his other cousins since they’d been born whole. He’d come into the world defective, missing his right arm and parts of his voice box. No one knew the cause, it was just one of those things. But he’d matured and accepted the way things were. No point in getting worked up over something no one had any control over.

 

“Hey, you going on a scavy?” Nate asked, panting slightly from running. Sage nodded.

 

“Want some company?”

 

Sage smiled and nodded again. The two walked on. Seeing the lights of the dump truck up ahead they started running, Sage’s empty coat sleeve flapping by his side.

 

Reaching the scrap heap, they dove in and got to work straight away, bagging any likely looking pieces and throwing the occasional part to a Mecha who needed it. A lot of people they knew wouldn’t have understood the latter, but Nate and Sage were of the opinion that they were all unregistered and rejected, the least they could do was help each other.

 

“Moon on the rise!”

 

Everyone in the pit looked up from what they were doing. Sure enough, the moon-shaped balloon was coming straight towards them, accompanied by cries of “Any old iron”.  Ditching their bags of scrap the two orgas fled along with the mechas. They may not have feared the Flesh Fair but the instinct to flee at the first sign of trouble was heavily ingrained from years of evading Population Control. ‘Ferals’ like them may have not been killed as casually as their mechanical neighbours but they were every bit as hated. If they’d thought about it they would have realised that they’d be better off staying put, but they didn’t. Instinct took over and they ran.

 

In the confusion that followed, they lost sight of each other. Sage got swept along with the mechas while Nate ran off on his own. However, they were both thinking the same thing. If they got home, they’d be safe. They just had to keep running. Hearing the engines of the hounds, Nate had a flash of inspiration and scrambled up a tree, hiding in its branches, his heart pounding.

 

Meanwhile Sage was still running for his life alongside half a dozen battered mechas, the hounds hot on their heels. Unknown to them, by running as a group, they had sealed their doom. Seeing the mechas in front of him, one of the hounds decided to risk firing the net, letting out a whoop when it took down most of them.

 

Sage struggled in vain against the net, wishing he was capable of yelling as he was dragged off. Then he hit his head on something and the world went dark.

 

Sometime later he came round, lying on the ground surrounded by broken mechas. He could hear loud music and a baying crowd. Dragging himself into a sitting position he looked though the bars of the cage that held him just in time to see acid being dumped over a security mecha. The sight made him want to throw up.

 

‘Sick bastards,’ he thought.

 

With a little help from a mecha that looked like it had once been someone’s butler he got to his feet. He tried to come up with a way to escape but he was still woozy from being hit on the head and he couldn’t think clearly. He moved to the back of the cage to try and buy more time. Over the next fifteen minutes he saw the worst of man'’ inhumanity to mecha. It made him ashamed to be human.

 

Then two men entered the cage and grabbed him. Sage fought back, something mechas were incapable off thanks to their programming but the two guys weren’t very bright. They saw the missing arm and silently moving mouth, felt the skin that was cold from the air and fear and thought ‘mecha’. Sage managed to kick one of his captors who let out a grunt of pain.

 

“Damn thing must have a bug in its brain”, muttered the other stagehand as he grabbed hold of Sage’s legs. As they carried him out of the cage, Sage got his arm free and grabbed hold of one of the bars but they tore him loose, injuring his wrist in the process. Seeing the agonised look on his face, they laughed.

 

“Looks like its pain receptors are working fine. I’m going to enjoy seeing this one get trashed,” said the guy Sage had kicked.

 

Now Sage was really starting to panic. He struggled harder but to no avail. Years of malnurishment had weakened him and he was no match for the two gorillas carrying him. He was loaded into the cannon. He heard the barker.

 

“Gentlemen, start your engines.”

 

Sage knew what was going to happen. He’d seen it happen to mechas while he was in the cage. He tried to climb out but the cannon was too smooth and too narrow for him to do so. He couldn’t even get his arm out. He heard the huge fan start up and he realised that it was over. He closed his eyes and prayed for it to be quick. It was. The sound of the cannon firing and a sensation of flying through the air then it was over.

 

The baying mob in the stands fell silent when they heard the wet splatter of flesh hitting the rotating blades. Gore splattered the ground, and a couple of the caged mechas who all had surprised looks on their faces. When what had happened sank in, the cheers were replaced by horrified screams and the sound of retching. In the resulting riot, some of the mechas escaped and fled into the woods.

 

Meanwhile, back in the woods, Nate had climbed down from his perch a few minutes after the hounds had left. Unable to find Sage he went home. When he realised that Sage wasn’t there he raised the alarm and, along with a group of cousins and uncles, went back out to look for him. They didn’t find him of course and after a few hours they went home. The next day they found a mecha houseboy who told them what had happened. Grief and anger spread through the small community like wild fire. They knew that Johnson would probably get off with a slap on the wrist since an illegal’s life didn’t count for much and they were powerless to do anything about it since most of them were unlicensed, unregistered and had only slightly more rights then the mechas but that didn’t stop them planning their own brand of justice. Johnson had already left the area but they could wait.  The next time a Flesh Fair came anywhere near Trenton, they were going to make them pay for what happened to Sage.