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Gears of War: Aspho Fields (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. Dezember 2008

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Karen Traviss is a science fiction author and full-time novelist from Wiltshire, England. Originally from the Portsmouth area, Traviss is a graduate of the Clarion science fiction and fantasy workshop. Her first published novels include City of Pearl and its five sequels: Crossing the Line, The World Before, Matriarch, Ally, and Judge. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

CHAPTER 1

I swear I thought the place was a museum when I walked in. I mean, it was huge, full of books and old paintings. And deserted, you know? That kind of dead silence that says just shut your mouth and feel the awe of history. And then Marcus’s mom came through the door like she hadn’t seen us, reading some papers she had in her hand, and she says, “Hi sweetheart, you brought some friends home? I’ll catch up with you later.” Then she was gone. I saw the look on Marcus’s face, and knew right then that the guy needed a brother a whole lot more than he needed a library.
(Carlos Santiago, describing his first visit to Marcus Fenix’s family mansion at the age of ten.)

Ephyra, present day–14 A.E.

Dom Santiago decided that there was one good thing about a phantom sniper blowing a Locust’s brains all over his face. It took his mind off worrying how many Locust were still around. His legs were shaking as he moved to the edge of the pit that had opened in the paving and aimed his rifle below, just in case the grubs had backup on the way. The shakes were just the aftershock of the adrenaline, but–

Liar. I nearly shit myself. The grub was choking the life out of me, a round missed my brain by inches. That’s fear. Forget the adrenaline.

No, it never stopped being terrifying. The day it did, he’d really be dead. In the tangle of broken pipes and cables below, nothing stirred beyond the clicking of settling soil and stones. Dom couldn’t feel anything under his boots now except the slight rocking movement of broken paving. The vibrations from deep in the planet had vanished for the time being, and the smell of chargrilled dog had been overwhelmed by shattered bowels and pulverized concrete.

“Hey, smart-ass,” Baird called to the empty street. “Nice shot. Now show yourself.”

“Better shout louder,” Cole said. “He could be a mile away.”

It was always hard to spot a sniper. But in this maze of destruction and shadows, there were a thousand places to lay up and wait for trade. Marcus squatted down and examined what was left of the Locust’s skull again. Then he looked up and gestured in the general direction of the south side of the street.

“No, a lot closer. The round went in near the top of the skull. High angle, and a lot of kinetic energy left.”

Dom looked where Marcus was pointing, trying to work out where the sniper would have had clear line of sight. Marcus backed slowly to the nearest wall and pressed his fingers to his earpiece. Dom listened in.

“Delta to Control, any sniper teams to the south of Embry? Any Gears at all?”

“Negative, Delta.” It was Lieutenant Stroud: Anya Stroud, still on duty after eighteen hours. The woman never seemed to sleep. If Delta Squad was awake–so was she. “Need one?”

“Not anymore.”

“Don’t leave me in suspense, Sergeant...”

“We’ve got a joker loose with an obsolete sniper rifle. He’s helpful now, but he might not stay that way.”

“Thanks for the heads- up. I’ll put out an advisory.”

Cole was still focused on the roofline. Baird lowered his Lancer and started walking again. “Let’s get out. Maybe they got a sudden dose of patriotism and realized they owe us, now the war’s nearly over.”

“Maybe,” Marcus said, “he was aiming at Dom and missed. And it’s not over.”

“Stranded never fire on us. They’re not that dumb.”

“Old rifle. Great shot.” Marcus reloaded, casual and ap­parently in no hurry. “So I’m curious.”

Baird didn’t look back as he picked his way over fallen masonry. “Plenty of Stranded are good shots. Doesn’t mean we have to go find them and enlist them.”

Baird had a point. As long as nobody was shooting at them, it wasn’t their problem. But if someone had a sniper rifle, Dom knew it was stolen. Obsolete or not, the things were scarce. A handful of factories struggled to produce spares, let alone crank out new weapons. Every operational piece of kit, from Ravens to Armadillos to assault rifles, was a losing battle between maintenance and decay. Like all Gears, Dom cannibalized parts from anything he could grab. Baird was a master at it.

“Yeah, we need to know,” Dom said. “Because if the rifle isn’t stolen, that means the owner’s one of us. A veteran.”

Baird paused to pick up something. When he held it closer to his face to examine it, Dom could see it was a servo part of some kind. “It’s old kit and they’re thieving scum.” Baird pocketed the servo.

“Because no Gear is going to hang around with street vermin if he’s capable of shooting.”

Again, the cocky little bastard was right. Dom wanted to see him proved wrong someday, if only to shut his mouth for a while. Yes, veteran Gears reenlisted after Emergence Day, even some really old guys, because there were two choices for any man worth a damn: fight with the COG forces, any way he could–or rot. The only excuse for not fighting the Locust was being dead.

“Every rifle counts,” Dom called after him. No, the war wasn’t over. “And every man.” He turned to Marcus and gestured toward the likely direction of fire. “Give me ten minutes.”

“You’ve got me curious, too,” Cole said, resting his Lancer against his shoulder. “I think I’ll join you.”

Marcus sighed. “Okay, but keep your comm channels open. Baird? Baird, get your ass back here.”

Half of this city block had been a bank’s headquarters, surrounded by snack and coffee shops that lived off the army of clerks. It was all derelict now. Dom could just about remember how it had looked before E- Day, the ranks of neatly wrapped sandwiches in the window displays, filled with the kind of delicacies nobody could get hold of now. Food in the army was . . . adequate, better than anything that Stranded had. But it wasn’t fun.

Dog. Damn, who’d eat a dog?

The glittering granite façade was just a shell now, with a few hardy plants rooted in cracks in the ashlars. Nothing much grew here. It didn’t get the chance. Dom and Cole edged inside the burned- out bank and looked up to see that there were no floors, and nowhere to hide. It was a big empty box. Everything that could be hauled away and reused–wood, metal, cable, pipes–had been scavenged long before.

“Well, shit,” Cole said cheerfully. “I had my fortune stashed here.”

Cole had been a pro thrashball star, a rich man in a world long gone. Wealth was measured in skills and barter now. He always treated his worthless millions as a big joke; he could find humor in just about any situation. But there was nothing much left to buy that a Gear needed. Dom decided that when life returned to normal–even after fourteen years, he had to think that it could–he’d follow Cole’s example and treat money as easy come, easy go. People were what mattered. You couldn’t replace them, and they didn’t earn interest. They just slipped away a day at a time, and you had to make the most of every precious moment.

When I find Maria, I won’t take a single minute for granted.

Dom scanned the interior and peered down into a deep crater where the polished marble counter had once been. Nothing moved, but he could see... -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


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