Previous: Chapter 2
UBW's sun beat heavily down on the desert. This desert was mostly dirt and small, weak plants instead of an ocean of sand. The forsaken soldiers walked along in a straight line, suits offline. Neil had instructed them to use as little power as possible and only to use their weapons in dire emergencies. As they walked, a mountain appeared in the distance. Neil instructed them to all stop for a moment to catch their breaths. "Okay, we're going to climb that mountain by sundown. Understood?" Normally at least one of them would protest or offer an alternate solution, but they were too tired to complain.
"Understood", Ali said. Unfortunately in the desert, large objects tend to appear closer than they actually are. An hour passed and it looked like the mountain wasn't appearing any closer.
"Damn!" exclaimed William. "If this were any other situation, we'd be there in no time." He compared their armors. "At least me, anyway. And my legs could catch a bit of a break."
"Oh, would you shut up!?" Neil said. "I thought boot camp taught you to be better than that! I'm tired too, but we cannot afford to think like that! There are bigger things at stake here, like our own lives!"
Christian chimed in. "William has a point, though. Isn't survival about using as less energy as possible? Theoretically speaking, it will be sundown by the time we reach the base of the mountain."
Neil absorbed the information. "I see."
"And we're actually using more energy by carrying these heavy suits."
"We can't afford to leave these behind. They are powerful tools and we must conserve! They could mean our own lives being saved!"
"I'm just saying. What if we traveled at night instead? Less heat, and our suits have night vision for navigation."
"Fine! We'll travel at night, but no night vision. Unless there is no moon out, we will NOT be using unnecessary amounts of suit power. We will however, arrive at the base of the mountain! Capish?"
Sundown arrived and they set up a shelter of dead leaves and shed animal skin at the base of the mountain. They must rest up well, for their ascent will be more vigorous than regular travel.
They woke up early and began their climb before the dreaded heat of noon arrives. The mountain itself wasn't too steep. There were no lifeforms to be found aside from small insects and bushes. They gathered up what they could of them for food. At about the half point, William raised an important question: "What do we gain by reaching the top?"
"Navigation." Neil replied. "When we reach the top, we can get an idea of where the Hell we are."
"I can't wait!" Ali said as he lifted his helmet to eat a cricket. As they reached the top, it became quite windy. They all took a big breath as they stood at the top: the sweet feeling of accomplishment. The view was great. There was nothing in the way of their view. It was perfect for navigation. Neil got down on his stomach and put forth his R100-RAILGUN. It turned on and he looked through the built-in scope, which looked like a holographic sight. He adjusted the zoom to look farther away. He saw a single cloud in the sky at a great distance from the mountain, as well as tire tracks following it.
"THERE! We will follow that cloud! I see tire tracks in that direction as well. Perhaps we can find people and most importantly, water! Let us begin out descent!"
Noon had arrived. Their suits become hotter from the heat, which only made them feel hotter. But they pressed onward. Climbing down seemed to be harder than climbing up. Not only do they have to use energy to climb down, but they also must keep balanced to avoid tumbling downhill. This took hours and night had fallen by the time their descent was complete. They were all tired, but Neil refused to let them rest. "This is how we begin night travels. Tonight, we become nocturnal."
Luckily there was a full moon that night, so they only had to rely on biological night vision. Only occasionally would Neil activate the suit's night vision to reverify they are on track. The cloud appeared more and more above them. But the tire tracks went further than the cloud's diameter. They seemed to go on forever. As day began to approach, Neil finally gave the command to rest. "Equip your Trinities!" Ali, Christian, and William equipped their Trinities. "Now fire at the ground!" They did so and all 9 explosive arrows created a small ditch in the ground. "Good! We need something to cover us. Everyone gather some dirt!" The sunlight got brighter as the minutes went by. Enough dirt was accumulated to give them protection from the sun for the day, but not enough to completely bury them. As nocturnal creatures of the desert, this is now how they must rest. They fell asleep fast as the Hell of the day carries about its business.