Wesley Criegen rose from his resting place. His tongue dry, he stumbled towards the door to take a leak. The smell in his shack would’ve been repugnant to anyone but him; he’d developed immunity to it, grown accustomed to the odious cocktail of odours. He looked at the sun as it rose behind a layer of smog or soot. The air was dry, it smelled burnt. In the distance he could barely make out the faint outlines of caravans and bonfires. Smoke rose in plumes from various places in the immense wasteland.
He was high above the desert, looking down at the world from his resting place in the barren mountains. A couple of vultures circled him – they were fewer now than before, obviously being decimated by something ... But what, exactly? The heat? Lack of nourishment? Or something else entirely? He didn’t know. All he knew was that his stomach roared and ached. So he grabbed his trusted plasma pistol and shot one of the birds dead on the ground, fetched it and cooked it over the fireplace.
His black leather jacket bore various military insignia. He’d been a soldier in the confederate army, a storm trooper of sorts, sporting military grade weaponry of the heavy variety. Now his brothers in arms were long gone, probably all killed off by the foreign robot armies that invaded New America in the late twenty thirties. He missed them sorely, they’d been his only friends, his family.
He took a caffeinated stimulant injection and went out into the sun once more.
“Oh, fuck you, sun,” he murmured. “Fuck you.”
He started ascending the nearest peak, an ash-covered mountain some fifteen hundred feet tall. He was hyper-ventilating after a couple of feet, gasping for air, cursing his poor health, cursing the gods and the atmosphere and everything else in the known universe. But it had to be done, he had to scale this mountain, for he was certain it contained what he looked for: An ancient and holy artifact – the fabled Engineered Diabolical Electromagnetic Nanoparticledevice, or EDEN for short.