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Friday, October 5th, 2012 09:27 pm
This is the tiniest bit late, but better late than never, right?

Title: The Claim of the Pack
Author: [identity profile] issaro.livejournal.com

Artist: [personal profile] tarlanx Art Preview
Summary: The apocalypse has come and gone leaving just Rodney and John – and John’s wolf. They’ve finally made it to Colorado Springs and the source of the mysterious beacon Rodney set out to find all those weeks ago. But they aren’t quite as alone as they thought they were.
Sequel to Travelling with Wolves
Word Count: ~38K

Colorado Springs was burning, consumed not in a blaze of glory but rather in the slow collapse of embers into fragile ash memorials. From the airport tower, the black of the destroyed neighborhoods dwarfed the surrounding patches of dead brown where the fires had yet to spread. The end of the world had not come quietly to Colorado Springs.
“Oh,” Rodney whispered. His tone was part awe and part sorrow and part something that was too big to be named. It was the sound of the loss of a civilization – a tone unique to the end of the world, John had decided.

Rodney stood by his right shoulder and together they looked north out of the dirty windowpanes that ringed the tower cab – the glass-walled room at the top of the tower from which controllers had once directed airport traffic. Rodney's brow and short brown hair were slicked with sweat from the dark, hot climb up the tower, and the slump of his broad shoulders telegraphed his disappointment at the state of the city laid out to the north. John’s chest ached with the same disappointment. Rodney had told him that every major city he had passed since leaving Toronto had been destroyed but John had still hoped that Colorado Springs might prove to be one of the rare exceptions. Clearly, it was not.

“What do you think…” Rodney’s voice trailed off to silence without finishing the question. He didn’t need to finish; John was thinking the same thing.

The fire that was consuming Colorado Springs could have been an accident – a result of failing infrastructure or a lucky lightning strike on dry soccer fields and un-watered lawns. It was equally possible that the fire had been more deliberate. Directly north of the airport, Peterson Air Force Base was a wasted battleground. The shells of hollowed out barracks and blackened and pockmarked training fields bore testament to the last days of human occupation.

John glanced over a Rodney and cocked his head in silent encouragement. John had discovered very quickly that as long as he could keep Rodney talking everything was fine. In the five weeks they’d been travelling together, the only time Rodney had been truly quiet had been when they’d been forced to detour around a town called Burlington. There, the whole town had committed ritual suicide. Neither he nor Rodney had felt much like talking for a few days after that discovery.

Rodney swallowed against an obviously dry throat and offered, “We could go back to the last town. They probably won’t have much of a selection but we could make do?” The last was both question and statement.

John gave a short shake of his head. If the last town had had what they needed, they would have stopped there rather than pushing on to Colorado Springs. It was less a case of being picky than a case of needing what you needed.

Rodney’s frown reflected back at them in the dusty glass. “We could check out the south side there.” He pointed one dirty finger towards a large patch of green and grey at the edge of the airport where it met the south corner of the Air Force base. John could just make out the arch of hangers through the drifting smoke.

Rodney dragged the inside of his wrist across his forehead displacing sweat and grime in a smeared swath of brownish grey. “It looks like those hangers are clear. Perhaps there are stores there that hadn’t been distributed before...” here he rolled his hand in a vague gesture.

Before the world went to hell in a hand basket, he meant to say. Not that John was inclined to say it out loud either.

Rodney turned towards him and gave him an expectant look. John turned back to the window, uncomfortable under Rodney’s scrutiny.

“John?” Rodney asked. It was a question but not the real question. The real question, the question Rodney had been asking some variation of since Kansas, was what the wolf thought.

Rodney tended to treat the wolf like some canine version of a magic eight ball or maybe the time lady, as if all John needed to do was make a phone call and the wolf would rattle off any relevant situational facts about the area. The truth was, as always, more complicated.

John was finding lately that there wasn’t much of a choice, regardless of how complicated it might be.

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