The dust blew across the wreckage, already beginning to scour it clean of all markings. Once they were gone, everything would be fair game, until then it was still owned by some faction that would wipe out everyone in the caravan if even a single part still bore some small remnant of whom it belonged to. Soon though, soon it would be dismantled and whatever could be sold would be sold, and that which couldn’t, well it would be used in whatever way it could. Almost like the dust and sand which reclaims the mountains, the wreckage of the immense battleship would be pulled apart by roaming caravans until nothing remained except charred and blackened glass left by its impact.
“I don’t get it, if they know it’s here… Why don’t they just come get it?” Ed wondered out loud.
“Don’t get caught up in why it’s still here, just be grateful that it is.” Lem replied. “We could go another ten years without seeing a single scrap if another cease fire is called.”
“Whatever, there hasn’t been a cease fire or truce called in, well, since before you were born old man.” Ed was tired of Lem always telling him to be grateful or stop complaining; that was old Lem ever did was complain. Dust was always in his eyes, parts were always never good enough and things were always better in his day. Nothing was ever better though, and nothing would ever get better. Ed knew it would always be constant wandering, from one crash site to the next.
“Come on,” Lem said, “sun will be coming up soon and we don’t want to get caught in the heat. Another day or two and this should be ready for the picking.”
When they reached the caravan Ed found Mara waiting for him, he grinned when he saw her. Mara had found Ed four years ago wandering alone in the wastes and taken him into the caravan, he never left her side for more than a few hours after that day. They fought like most young couples do, but against the odds and advice of the caravan, Mara kept Ed around and they grew closer with the passing years. Before long it was as if they had known each other all their lives and Ed was as much a part of the caravan as Mara was.
“How is it?” Mara asked. “Is there much left?”
“Nothing has been touched so far, still some insignias left on the panels we need. In a day or two though it will be clean, as for the inside, we won’t have to worry. It’s huge so there will be a lot of good salvage for us.” Ed knew Mara was anxious, they had already been in the same spot for a week waiting to get the panels of the wreckage to begin building their own hut in the caravan. Ed had already assembled most of the necessary framework for their own little home, he even managed to come upon some reactor batteries in the last wreck they found so the hut wouldn’t need to be pulled on crude wheels by the others.
Ed’s resourcefulness was the only other reason he had been allowed to stay in the caravan, it was also why he was cast out of his last one. Being the only child of dead parents was never enough motivation to be careful for him, in fact, it drove him to seek out thrills and take the risks that no one ever would take. At only twelve years old he had already been established as the best scavenger in his caravan, nothing about the giant ships that crashed into the landscape ever gave him cause to fear. He would easily slip in and take what others had to wait days or even weeks to find as the hulks where whittled down by passing caravans. It was that recklessness that made his last home so afraid of him, not caring if what he took was marked or not by any faction. But he had an edge that no one else had, he could get anything he or anyone else needed in only a day or two. Still, that didn’t stop them from throwing him out at fourteen.
“It doesn’t matter how resourceful you are Ed,” Rol told him one day, “your carelessness is a bigger risk than you are worth to us. Maybe if your parents were here things would be different, but they aren’t. You have to leave, before the sun rises.”
Exile for any man was a dangerous prospect in the wastes, but for a kid, it was a death sentence and Ed knew it. He wouldn’t let them win though, he wouldn’t die. Ed resolved on his third day in exile that he would never let anyone hurt him so much again. He spent two long years moving from wreck to wreck living off the rations he found inside. Rations that most people never found because animals would carry them off before the hulls could be pulled apart enough to find where they were stored. Then Mara found him one day, when his luck had failed him and there were no wrecks to salvage within days of walking and his rations would sustain him no longer. He had been wandering the wastes for days at the edge of death and she brought him into her small caravan begging to let him stay at least until he was better.
Ed was sitting on top of the rock outcropping near the caravan’s campsite thinking about his past and how things had lead him to this point when Mara found him.
“Hey, come have a seat. The sun is just about to rise and it will look amazing from up here, I promise you.” As Mara sat beside him a light streaked from one empty point to another, where it stopped a bright cloud formed. Soon there were streaking lights and clouds filling an empty space in the stars and Ed reached up and covered it with his hand. “Do you ever wonder what would it would be like to be up there, in the middle of all those stars?”
“I imagine it would be scary, always afraid of dying, never really knowing where you are going next. Don’t tell me that’s what you want, to leave home and everyone you know just to wander the stars.” Mara didn’t make it a question, it was a statement, she didn’t want to leave the only life she had ever known.
“That’s all life is right now, moving from place to place, wandering a bunch of emptiness. Worrying about how we might die from some faction coming down and deciding to attack us because they are bored, or maybe we don’t find enough food. And besides, how well do I even know anyone here. There’s Lem sure, but we butt heads as much as we get along. We are cut from the same cloth, we are too much the same person to ever ‘just get along’. There is nothing I’m leaving behind, not if you came with me.”