by Max Barry

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Region: Selene

A step into the Wall

Like fields of oil wells lit ablaze a raging torrent of smoke and fire still smolders on the road, an convoy of armored trucks and tanks made to be burnt out hovels lying still. Climbing up on the sand dunes he see's it, a trail of death and burnt slag, bodies strewn about in rows like an execution. Inspection would warrant caution but it would seem that trouble already passed this area. Searching the trucks, its contents were looted, save for a few credit chips and ration packets, a hurried job to a raiders eye. A man facing down on the asphalt would reveal in his possession would reveal a few noteworthy items: a strange electronic bracelet with a marking etched G-31 on it, an identification badge saying this man was certified to drive this truck, and an exotic looking dagger embedded in his back. He collect all but the dagger, leaving the tainted weapon behind to dull away in its victim. Passing the rows of bodies and vehicles, strange markings, that of a viper holding a scimitar would plague the sides of the trucks. He would leave this macabre graveyard to the sands of time, to be picked apart by more less picky vultures than him.

Lo! Before him the gates of mercy and fortune, the saving grace of desperate travelers wishing to flee from horrors behind them. These were titanic gates, ancient mechanisms and poorly understood hydraulics keep it operational through the passages of history, not even the men who control the cities know little if at all of the first builders. Whatever magic or deal with the devil they took it works to separate eternal enemies and provide haven inside. From the outside a long procession of migrants and villagers looking to obtain sought after citizenship or even a visitors pass in. A bored security guard scanning people for contraband and diseases, when it was his turn he complies, "Name?" "Kane." "Business, Pleasure, or you looking to stay permanently" "Just passing by." "You check out, go to the middle hallway." the vacuum doors opens and shuts as to not let sand in. It was clean, a sterile white and steel grey lacquers the interior, nice and orderly as all statesmen would like it to be. Guards check Kane out suspiciously, these conscripts suited head to toe in riot gear are well to Ajian's stumbling from the desert beyond. If anything gives him reprieve from the Kafkaesque labyrinth of red tape and monotonous immigration officers is that the place had free clean drinking water that no other place gives. "Nice right?" a wealthy looking gentlemen said. Dawned all in exotically colored garb, such contrast from the floor he stands on it would stun Kane that anyone could afford to dress like that. "You know they charge you ten Yabalas for a sip in Augbrah, say you're on your last stop kid, you're scott free after this last guy finalizing your papers and all that." clearly he was one of those free traders he heard about from his parents, wandering traders that freely move from Emporia to Aja. "I thought you traders move however you like." "Oh that? I lost my license in a fire fight, one hell of a skirmish, my band almost died! Renewal is such a bore." his name was called up. "Ah well nice talking to you ya kid!"

"Mr Kane was it?" "Yes Sir." "We noticed that you have a visitors bracelet, and now since its your first time here, i want to know why you have one in your possession." he dead-eyed him with a serious look. "I got this from a looted caravan. It was already looted and it had a viper symbol on these trucks." the officer looks at his monitor and back to him. A brief tension that seemed like it would end in his arrest unburdened itself from his tone, "Well mister Kane it would seem like your story checks out, one of our supply convoys got hit, and you don't looked well armed enough to take on tanks yes?" he chuckles. "You can head on to the exist, rights of acquisition is in effect, its your rightful property. You're lucky kid, go on." he leaves the office, a security guard gives him a congratulations and pats him on the back, "Take that way, it leads to the city."

It opens for his eyes to gaze upon a thriving metropolis living underneath the roof that stretched to spite the clouds. The first thing to hit him was the noise, cars honking and speeding by, street vendors selling food, and countless people conversing into an incoherent mumble. Then the sight: Towering high rises that house the masses, barracks built on the wall itself for soldiers to rest, and cheaper housing units buried well below the view of the common man walking on the street. "Hey kid those are lower districts!" confused he asked what about them. "Slums, ghettos, ya know places you shouldn't go to. You look new here so thats the only advise to follow really. he followed this mans warning. Overwhelmed by all of it he ducked into an ally to clear his head. "Hey its you!" a familiar voice. "Yeah its you! Hey good thing you passed inspection, kinda hard for Ajians to make it through!" he jested. "Come on, don't be so glum, let me treat you some Yancies".

Yancies, a pub-style restaurant operating in the center of the red light district, was highlighted by its neon mole-fox mascot on top of the building. Entering, "Aaay! Impal how's it hanging pal? Ah who that with ya?" "I'm good Yancy, this is one of good friends, uh Kane i overheard, he passed the inspection!" "The inspection? Hey come on sit down, let yancy treat ya something nice buddy." sitting down, the place had a relaxing vibe. Pictures of soldiers burning down farmhouses, angry turban wearing militants executing other soldiers, and general unrest seem to fill the wall. Waiting patiently, Impal got his food first, a simple stew of meat and potatoes, supplied most likely from grow houses and artificial meat labs. Sizzling and the smell of greasy goodness fills the restaurant, Yancy got back from the kitchen to serve him fried chicken tenders and mash with gravity to top it. "Dig in." Kane thanks him for his generosity. Taking a bite of the chicken, its skin provided a refreshing crunch and burst of oil, the meat was stringy yet juicy, and dipping it into the mash and gravity it would satisfy the hunger inside him with refined vigor of this fried meal. "Home yeah?" "It does, feel like im at home, what a place." he relaxes as the tension of a long march and tedious paper work washes away as beer flows through his mouth. He would give up all of Aja's wealth just to feel like this, a brief yet true bliss from the world.