When Hiralaj awoke, he was groggy again. He could never remember how long he’d set his sleep timer for; 2 hours, 2 days, 2 months?
This time he couldn’t remember if he had any weapons, or how to use them. He found that he had a large and wicked looking knife as well as a rifle with a decent scope. He couldn’t remember how to shoot the rifle, so to experiment he shot two rounds into the wall of his apartment. Satisfied, he stepped out the door to the transporter just beyond.
In an instant he blinked into view on a concrete terrace surrounded by towering skyscrapers. Right away he could hear gunshots, but as he looked into the passageway that led into the nearest building he could see the scuffle but couldn’t determine who was who. Rather than join the fray, he backed into the shadows. Still concerned at being so close to the gunfight, he took a look over the banister at the alley below. He thought he could make it if he slid off a concrete bank to break his fall. With a quick judgement call he leapt over the side while he was sure no one was watching him.
He misjudged the distance and fell quicker than he thought he would; momentarily disoriented, he still landed unharmed in a dark alleyway below.
Dim electric lights made drifting globes in the evening fog as Hiralaj made his way carefully outward, away from the building with the gunshots. He never knew what to expect out here. Sometimes it was totally peaceful; sometimes a war zone.
Criminals or mercenaries from warring factions could now be anywhere in the city, roving about looking for easy kills or just claiming their territory. He was sure every shadow around a parked car, every hum of an air conditioner starting, every sound near or far, was an assailant leaping out to attack.
He knew he could possibly defend himself, but when someone jumps out at you from the darkness and starts shooting it can be difficult to orient, collect, and return fire regardles of what type of firearm you possess.
He made his way to the space harbor and hoped he could catch a shuttle off-world, find some place a bit more peaceful. He was in luck here, and was soon resting on posh stuffed seats in a transit shuttle looking at a small light up screen and deciding on his destination. He knew the politics shifted daily in the system now so first he would have to see where his own allies held power.
After a bit of deliberation, he found that the only area under friendly control was a run-down planet whose only inhabitable area was a sprawling underground complex; Hiralaj had no desire to be concealed in tunnels for extended periods and preferred the open air.
So he chose Caidzi as his destination, as its architecture had always fascinated him in pictures and he’d never been there in person.
It was silent and still. Hiralaj walked down many streets and alleys, through a bar, past a hospital; he saw no one. He could hear birds occasionally, but he never saw them. He knew nothing of the city being abandoned, and everything looked as though it were in a state of common usage; but there was no one.
At first he had been fearful of being attacked by some shady thugs living in the abandoned city, but eventually he realized that he was quite alone.
He stood by a window in a deserted corporate office building looking out over a splendind view of a graceful city caught between an industrialist and a hypermodern architecture. Exposed iron beams and soaring glass; sharp order next to curvaceous beauty. A part of him knew he shouldn’t let his guard down but the rest of him pointed out the utter solitude of the place and he told himself to be at peace. There was no gunfighting, no criminals, no abusive security forces; no one at all.
As night began to fall, it began to become very unsettling to be in an utterly deserted city, so Hiralaj found a shuttle pad and called for a transport, for which he didn’t have to wait long. So if people could come here, why didn’t they?
He looked through his messages on the flight back home; it was amazing how much back and forth was happening among the colonies and mines in this sector of the universe. He could barely keep up.
Hiralaj decided to avoid any possible remnants of the earlier battle and returned instead to a flat he owned in Old Binang. He actually preferred this one in many ways as it was more peaceful with its wood and paper design, but he often found himself drawn to the gritty urbanism of his normal flat as it was personal to him.