MLM – Chapter 19

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Lasko opened his eyes slowly. The bright light shined down from the cloth celling, flickering over his tired, drawn face. He looked down at the boy laying on the cot next to him, Tunnel squeezing a large stuffed brown bear in his arms as he slept peacefully.
“You’re up,” a flat voice stated, and Lasko looked up to see a skinny dark haired boy looking at him impatiently.
Lasko stretched his arms upwards, careful not to disturb the sleeping boy next to him. He couldn’t help but groan as his sore muscles ached. “How long did we sleep for?” He asked.
“9 hours or so. That’s enough, so hurry up and get up. We still gotta worry about Vance.”
That’s right. The vicious gang leader that they had the misfortune to irritate.
Sharp gently shook Tunnel, who sat up slowly after waking up. The child didn’t say a word, only sitting there blankly with half-shut eye lids.
“We gotta find a new place to live,” Sharp said bitterly. “If we wait too long, Vance will be able to find us here.”
Lasko frowned. “Are you sure that he’ll chase us?”
“No.” Sharp said shortly. “But he tried to kill us once, I don’t wanna let him try again.”
He looked to Tunnel, who was still rubbing his eyes tiredly. “We gotta move all our stuff to the new home, it’ll be far, so we better take it with us in one trip.”
Sharp gestured to a few things in the hut, the water maker and the locker, the floor where they had hidden their precious units.
“It’d going to take us some time to find a safe spot, we’ll probably be gone for a week or so.”
Lasko stood up, stretching his sore limbs. “So I guess we’re leaving right away, huh?”
“No.” Sharp shook his head again. “Me and Tunnel will go look for a new place to live. Lasko you’ll stay here.”
“Huh?” Tunnel muttered slowly, finally looking at Sharp with a tired pout on his face.
Sharp hurried to explain his reasoning. “Lasko, you stick out too much, you’re big and you’re slow. We can make good time without you. Tunnel can ride the cart and I can pull him as we move. Plus Vance is looking for the both of us, so us two gotta stick together.”
Lasko stared at Sharp in shock. He had known that Sharp was jealous, but he didn’t expect that the kid would take such drastic measures to tighten his relationship with the youngest.
How calculating. Lasko felt himself get a bit anxious. Was he about to be abandoned?
Right then Tunnel began to make a fuss. “I want Lasko to come with us!” Tunnel stomped his feet. “Why do we have to leave him here? What if Vance comes!?”
Lasko’s heart warmed. That’s right, Tunnel was his fan. He wouldn’t abandon Lasko now, at least not willingly.
He glanced at Sharp who was trying (with difficulty) to deal with Tunnel’s tantrum. Sharp probably understood that ditching would have long-term repercussions too, and the worry that Sharp was using this as a chance to ‘release Lasko into the wild’ faded.
“Tunnel, it’s fine.”
Sharp looked at Lasko in surprise. He hadn’t expected Lasko to agree.
Tunnel still shook his head, refusing, but Lasko put a hand on his shoulder. “Tunnel, Sharp’s right, I stick out too much, and I’d just slow you guys down. I’ll be fine here. Even if Vance finds me, he’s only really looking for you two. I’ll probably be fine.”
He looked at Sharp. “Does anybody know where this home is?”
Sharp shook his head, understanding Lasko’s question right away. “Nobody, not even Leonard. They might know the rough direction, but it’ll take Vance forever to search this whole area.”
Lasko silently agreed. It was a six hour trek to Leonard’s from here. He estimated that they were at least twenty miles out. Given that Vance would have to search among the mountains of junk on foot, he felt pretty unfindable.
“You hear that Tunnel? I’ll be fine.” Lasko tousled Tunnel’s hair. “You guys are the ones that need to be careful.”
Tunnel nodded reluctantly, accepting Lasko’s words without any more trouble. Lasko couldn’t help but laugh internally as he saw a complicated expression of relief and jealousy cross Sharp’s face.
Actually, Lasko had another reason for wanting to stay behind; it would give him a chance to try to repair PIRA without raising any questions. This way ‘Mister Zero’ could keep the boys in the dark about his actual thetan levels. When the boys come back after a week, I’ll be able to show them how useful I can be.
A couple hours later, Lasko helped Sharp seat the locker firmly on the platform, the last of the luggage that the boys intended to take with them on the trip. They had also taken the water machine, various tools, the majority of their food rations, and of course, the previously buried box that held their life-savings.
A large portion of water and food had been set aside for Lasko, more than enough to last several weeks. After the boys returned, the food would be enough for the three of them on their trek to the new home base.
“Ok, we’ll be back in five days or so. Make sure you stay here, and don’t go wandering around. It’s safe here,” Sharp said.
“Got it,” Lasko lied. He had no intention on staying an entire week cooped up inside a metal hut. Lasko thought that he’d be fine, as long as he kept an eye out for Vance’s men. And excessively large wild animals.
“See you in a week, Lasko!” Tunnel said, kicking his feet back and forth, from his perch on the hover-cart. A bag sat next to him, the teddy bear’s head sticking out of the top. His mood was much better since the morning.
Sharp grabbed the lead, and Lasko waved as the two traveled into the distance. Right before going around the bend, Tunnel stood on top of the cart, and his voice reached Lasko faintly. “Make sure you stay at home! It’s dangerous…!”
Lasko nodded and waved, to show that he understood, but Tunnel continued. “You… home… dump day…”
I can’t understand him. Just as Lasko thought that, the two boys disappeared from his sight.
Oh well. Lasko rubbed his hands together. Time to get to work. Those boys sure are going to be surprised when they get back.

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