Yay, more stories about Engie and Snippy!
I do not own any characters or names.
Story contains some swearing, violence and a tiny bit of shl- no, let's call it brotherliness. Honestly, I prefer to keep it that way.
Test read: eight_of_hearts
On a cold afternoon in the nuclear winter, he was tired – tired of walking.
Pilot panted under the weight of Captain.
After a long walk consisting of carrying him around for two hours straight, they had finally arrived at the place they currently called their home, and he set down the heavy man.
The ex-aviator stretched his back with a loud, ominous crack and he winced quietly, moving his hand to his back to rub away the pain.
He rarely complained, not even when it was so bad that every other person would if they were in his position.
Engie looked at him and couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy, even if he couldn't quite say he was his best friend.
He spoke up in anger.
"Don't you feel the slightest bit mean when you make Pilot carry you around all the time as if he were your horse?"
"I'm Captain's pony!" Pilot cut in happily and wanted to take a leap through the room but flinched at the backache.
"Is there a possibility that you are jealous, Mr. Engie?" Captain asked, pointing at him.
He's obviously trying to make another embarrassing attempt at being a wannabe psychologist.
"Stop calling me Engie!" he huffed. "And no, I'm not jealous of you. I have two strong legs, I can walk by myself and I'm perfectly fine with it!"
"Is that so?" Captain teased. "Do you want to be my new mount then?"
Snippy chuckled and Engie turned red under his mask, furiously thinking up the best answer to possibly give.
"I would rather get mangled by some vile beast and die than be degraded in such a ridiculous way!"
"But dead ponies aren't fun..." Captain sniffled.
"How about a bicycle?" Snippy suddenly suggested.
"A most brilliant idea, my Snippy-Sniper!" he said and gave him a rather rough, swift pat on the back. "Engie, get me one of those bicycles!"
"What? Why me?" he said, shifting his eyes to Snippy, and sending out an indignant whisper: "Thanks, you fucking bastard..."
"Why you?" Captain spoke. "Because Snippy is gonna go for supplies in the meantime."
"But... It's getting dark in a few hours!" the sniper warned sternly.
"No buts! This won't take you long. Now go, my minions!" Captain declared.
Snippy walked over to the table and picked up a bag before he left through the door. He really wanted to hurry to get this task done, so he could be back in time before nightfall.
He knew a store not too far from their current base that seemed to have been undiscovered by other scavengers. Hopefully this would be a rather easy task for him this time.
Slowly, Engie trotted down the street, looking out for anything that seemed halfway useful. Small, ominous creatures watched him from every corner, which made him slightly nervous, but he locked his fears away. At daylight, they won't come out, he kept reassuring himself.
Suddenly he came across a few devastated bikes, their remains still parked in steady slots or lying scattered across the street.
Half-heartedly he picked up some of the less damaged pieces, briefly inspected them and threw them back to the others onto a big pile of useless junk.
With little to motivate him, he decided to look for a bike shop. There was a small chance he would find one, and an even smaller chance he'd find a still functional bicycle in there to bring to the Captain and stop him from constantly using Pilot as a horse. The mere thought of it made him stir in anger.
After passing countless office blocks, broken down apartments, cafes, a fruit store and a kitchen shop, he stopped in front of something that seemed to have been a bike shop once, before a truck had crashed into it, destroying everything on the inside with a big explosion, he assumed.
Engie hung his head dejectedly after searching through the junk in the broken shop for a while only to leave it empty-handed. He fought with the urge to just go back pretending he didn't find anything, but he did this to spare Pilot's back.
Not that he did it because he liked the guy; in fact, he hated him even more than Seven. His intention was to avoid having him come to him again, begging him to "fix" him, as he used to call it when Engie once nursed him after he hurt his leg.
Also, Pilot played an important part in guaranteeing his survival – at least as long as they were out in the more dangerous zone. When they weren't, he did the opposite – getting them all in trouble.
Caught in all kinds of thoughts, he went ahead on the road leading out of the city, heedless of time, to look for a junkyard. For an unknown amount of time, he just walked, thinking of the past, eventually losing himself in a daydream.
Swift footsteps woke him back to reality and he looked up, seeing the sky already becoming alarmingly dark.
Never before since the day the electricity system had broken down, had he been outside in the open at night.
"Gromov!" Snippy shouted and leaped right in front of him, bringing him to a halt. "Captain told me to go look for you, since you hadn't returned yet." He paused to catch his breath.
"Fuck off... I don't need a babysitter" Engie snarled dourly. He pushed him aside and continued walking.
Upon hearing that, Snippy quickly felt irritation rising. He seriously didn't have to take shit from Engie – the big mouthed, defenseless one.
"Gosh, fine. I'll leave you alone then. Won't mind if you get lost out here," he said and turned to go back. "I would just like to inform you that it's getting dark in less than an hour, and we have a new moon."
"New moon? How is that of any importance when you can't even see the moon through all these layers of never ending, thick clouds covering the whole sky...?" Engie questioned with a laugh.
Snippy sighed and attempted to explain his theory.
"That's the point, Gromov. You can't see. A full moon reflects some light to the earth. A new moon doesn't. Did you never take a walk outside at night, watching the moon phases?"
"Uhhm, no, not really. Why?"
The sniper gestured with his hands while talking.
"Well, if my theory is right, the coming night will be pitch black and you won't be able to see your hand in front of your face anymore. Dawn is already here, so we shouldn't waste daylight."
Gromov looked at him in amazement.
How come I didn't consider this myself before that showoff tour guide brought it up? he thought. "Alright then, let's hurry back," he finally said.
The darkness expanded around them, much like water flooding a sinking ship. He was told to move faster, but his legs weren't as agile as the sniper's, so he kept stumbling, almost falling over rocks and getting stuck in wires countless times.
They didn't even make it halfway back to the base before Engie gazed around and could barely recognize the blue eyed man's face in the dark anymore as he turned to him. He cowered on the ground at the sight of a large figure looming over him.
"What the hell are you doing down there, Gromov?" the man inquired.
"Oh..." the engineer stated and got back up. "I thought you were one of those wasteland monsters. Haha!"
"You're such an idiot," Snippy huffed irritably, and moved on.
A few minutes later, he couldn't hear Engie's clumsy footsteps behind him anymore and stopped. There was pure blackness around him and all he could trust on now was his sense of hearing and touch.
"Gromov...?" he asked uncertainly, peering into the void.
Tentatively he walked a few steps into the other direction. The forward section of his foot hit against bricks and he stepped over them.
Shit. You better not have gotten lost already, Gromov, because you won't survive one night out here.
At one point he stretched out his arms and made a 360° turn, but his hands didn't hit on anything.
Trying to see anything in this darkness made no sense when not even the white of his jacket was visible to his eyes anymore.
A hand suddenly grabbed his shoulder and gave him a start.
"BWAH?" he exclaimed.
"Oh, there you are," Engie said with a chuckle. "Calm down Charles, it's just me."
"What gives you the right to scare me like that?" Snippy berated the copper eyed man quietly, jabbing a finger at his chest. "I just hope you didn't lure out any of the monsters with this stupid action."
"What? You were the one who screamed."
Silence followed, and Engie got hold of Snippy's sleeve.
"Gah, whatever. We should try to talk in whispers from now on, if we have to. So they won't hear us."
"Whatever you say, Mr. tourist guide," he mocked.
Now Snippy grabbed and wrenched Engie by the arm in a rather rough manner.
"Listen, this is not a joke. If you want to stay with me you better follow my orders, and if that doesn't go into your stubborn head, be my guest and go alone." He let go.
A silent snort escaped Engie's respirator as they walked. Suddenly he pulled the other man back, bringing him to halt.
"Did you see a dim light over there?" the copper eyed man asked.
"Over there." He pointed, belatedly realizing that his gesture had no meaning in this darkness. "I wonder where that came from. Can't hurt to check it out, right?"
Sure, you've already gotten us lost anyway. What else could possibly go wrong besides us both getting eaten? Snippy thought as he was unwillingly dragged along by his sleeve.
They had been walking for quite a while before the sniper started talking.
"I really hope you know what you're doing and won't lead us down a-"
He was interrupted by Engie suddenly falling over, pulling him down full force before he loosened his grip. The fall was short but they ended up rolling down a steep hill. Rough, charred soil and dry bushes didn't turn out to be a good hold so they kept gaining speed.
A little way down Snippy felt a few bigger rocks and roots passing below him as he rolled over them.
I'll just meet Gromov at the end, he thought. Then a tree struck him vertically.
Engie quickly got up and blindly groped about his surroundings. After a few steps, he touched cloth.
"Here we go again, Charles. At least you didn't scream this time. Are you alright?" he asked.
"What's wrong?" Engie whispered, then he was dragged along as his partner started walking.
"Where are we going? I can't see the light anymore, can you?"
Is he that mad at me for taking us down a hill? Though what gives him the right to be all grumpy at me about it? It wasn't my intention; I only tried to find the right way, Engie thought to himself. He was quite certain that Charles didn't know the way either.
"How do you even know where you are taking us?"
"Ssshh..." was all he heard.
Engie was very irritated and confused by the behavior of his colleague.
I won't take shit from that horrible sniper this time. I'm going to make things clear now.
He pulled on the cloth and the other one drew to halt.
"Alright now, stop being so quiet and tell me what's going on!" he shouted.
An angry hiss caused him to back away.
Wait- where did this light come from?
A bright light suddenly flared up right in front of him and his eyes burned as he was blinded by the sudden change of brightness.
Shielding his eyes from the sudden glare, he noticed two more lights below the other one, keeping him in focus.
This wasn't Snippy.
The shock sat deep in him and he instantly tried to get away, but he was already caught in the glow-eyed mutant's powerful grasp. A thick arm with a strong hand at the end held him by the arm.
His heart skipped a beat as a mouth full of sharp teeth gaped at him.
He wrenched and jiggled in panic, flailing at the massive arm with his free hand, with no success. His heart pounded as the creature's fangs kept coming closer to his neck.
Just in time Engie slipped out of his coat and got away, leaving it behind in the confused monster's grasp.
All that was on his mind now was to run away as far as possible, as fast as he could.
Trotting through darkness, he gazed back.
He hadn't come that far yet when the ground disappeared at his feet before he could even notice.
Appalled about his misfortune, he fell down into a pond and splashed in panic as his limbs got entangled in tenacious underwater grasses.
The water wasn't deep, but as it covered his whole body he realized how piercingly cold the wet element was. On a side note he couldn't see what kind of creatures lurked in this endless, black pond. This was a swamp, he was pretty sure of it.
It doesn't matter now. I have to keep moving to get out of here, he thought.
Quickly he struggled himself free. Even though the cold seemed to weaken him with every step he took towards the shore, the adrenaline pushed him forwards.
A hand got hold of his arm and grasped it so firmly that he thought it would break his bones. He was lifted up into the air, feeling another hand clasp his leg.
The lights glared up again and the eyes were more fierce than ever, and the engineer prepared to be torn apart or eaten alive.
Snippy woke up, sharp rocks digging uncomfortably into his back. He must have hit his head on something after he had gotten up from his less than pleasant collision with a tree and slipped on the gravel.
When he rose, his whole body ached, seemingly covered in countless bruises and abrasions.
It was a miracle that he hadn't broken anything, and the rifle on his back was also still intact, as he noticed with satisfaction when he took it off and ran his hand over the weapon.
Not that I could make use of it in this darkness anyways, he thought.
"Gromov..." He called out for the engineer in a hissing voice, but no response came back, and he called out again.
Oh Engie... you'd better not be lying somewhere around here with your brains bashed out, the sniper thought and winced at the notion.
From the corner of his eye he made out a movement. A light glowed up on a tiny hill some steps ahead of him.
He held the rifle up to his face to take a look through the lens and startled. There was a big glow-eyed mutant, holding up somebody. That person could only be...
Suddenly terrified, he picked up his pace and dashed through the dark, the light his only lead and target at the same time.
As soon he was close enough, he grabbed his rifle, removed the safety catch and loaded. He was ready to aim right for the head – then Engie's leg got in the way.
"Damn it Gromov... stop wriggling!" he muttered and waited for the perfect moment with his finger on the trigger, ready to shoot.
That's it, he got me. There's no escape this time. But I won't be easy prey.
With all he had, Engie pushed the deformed head away with his free foot, and the beast snarled angrily.
The creature snapped at his leg and he yanked his foot away. Fortunately the teeth only caught at the edge of the leather, scraping a chunk of it off. Engie sucked in his breath - one more bite from a different angle and he would have his foot lacerated in no time. He hyperventilated, trying to shake it off with yanks. At the moment he held still, the creature's jaw opened wide to go for another bite and he flinched back.
One of the glowing eyes went black as it exploded in a spout of dark blood. Engie's limbs were instantly released and he fell down on the pebbly ground.
The big mutant staggered above him, groaning. The engineer looked up and focused on the sniper who came running towards him before the light would go out.
"Charles, watch out!" Engie shouted, not soon enough as he watched the monstrosity in its last shutting down process. It used its last power to raise its massive arm and slam it into Snippy's middle.
He choked with a groan, the impact pressing the air out of his lungs before he was tossed off solid ground and plunged into the cold water.
He's going to drown, Engie thought and jumped off the edge.
Snippy floated, face down, and saw fading light and swirls of water through his goggles, unable to move in his sudden paralysis, caused by the hefty knock. He couldn't breathe, and the water blocking his respirator wasn't the only reason.
Somebody grabbed him and dragged him to a nearby shore. He felt solid ground below his back again. The straps of his mask were loosened by nervous hands and it slid down to his neck, water flowing out from the inside.
He took a deep gasp from the thin air and coughed as his lungs hurt.
"Charles! Hey, can you hear me?" Engie asked, still panting.
"...Yeah. I'm perfectly fine," he answered when he'd got his breath back. He sat up.
"Did you swallow any of the water?"
"No," Snippy said swiftly, tearing off his soaked jacket and shirt to wring them out.
"Good. Because it's probably radioactive."
You don't say, Snippy thought.
Quickly he put his stuff back on and fixed his respirator back on his face.
Engie took hold of his arm again, not wanting to lose him again in the dark, and Snippy felt him tremble. Their soaked, cold clothes stuck to their skin and felt like spikes of ice on it, making them shiver.
"Let's get out of here," Snippy commanded and got up, slightly dizzy from the sinking temperatures. His colleague followed suit.
"I need to find my coat," Engie demanded as they trudged through the breezy march, clinging to each others' arms. He only wore a short sleeved top beside his usual gear, and his wet hair stuck to his goggles.
Snippy agreed to help him with the search. They scanned the surrounding ground with their feet while wandering through the everlasting black.
Minutes passed, seeming like hours to them in this biting cold. It debilitated the two men to a point of body temperatures sinking to a dangerous minimum.
Engie's grip slightly loosened from Snippy's sleeve, until it finally detached and he fell down with a pained sigh. The other man quickly noticed and caught hold of him, slowly sitting down with him.
"Gromov? Whats wrong?" the sniper said, holding Engie's shoulders in a firm grasp to keep him from falling over.
"So... cold..." he exhaled with shaky voice, sitting crouched on the ground. Casting aside all quarrels, he suddenly huddled towards Snippy, who was astounded about the sudden closeness.
When the need for warmth to survive outweighs the pride, Engie changes to a softer person, the blue eyed man thought.
Slowly he formed his grasp into a hug. As his arm brushed over the engineer's shoulder blade he noticed a strange bump under the wet cloth. He felt over it curiously with his hand and was startled as it moved.
"Oww, what the hell are you doing back there?" the other one hissed irritably.
The sniper kept pushing on it, trying to determine what it was.
"There's some kind of slug or worm attached to your skin. I think it's a leech... and it's huge."
"Gaahh, get it off me!" the engineer yelped in horror.
"I can't if you don't stop wriggling!" Snippy scolded.
Engie immediately stopped and groaned silently as the leech was scraped off by a calm hand, the long teeth slowly loosening their strong grasp from his flesh. Snippy quickly threw it far away, before it could dig its teeth into his own hand.
"There you go, it's off. Probably been on you sucking blood for quite a while already."
Silence followed and when it became unbearable, the sniper sighed irritatedly at Engie missing out on saying thanks, again.
"Yeah, you're welcome."
He got up first and started walking, purposely leaving the other one behind.
"Hey, wait up!" Engie instantly ranted and stumbled into the blue eyed man's back, who just stood there and didn't yell back at him for it, to his surprise.
"I think I found your jacket," he said and bended down to pick it up with a rustling sound.
The engineer instantly snagged it away from him and wrapped it over his own back, enjoying the soft piece of dry, warm cloth with a pleasant "Ah..."
Snippy was left there standing empty handed, slightly frustrated and pained from the cold.
As they continued their journey, strong, icy gusts passed the two lost ones.
At least Engie has his damn coat, Snippy thought, hands wrapped around himself, shivering. Unpleasant chills shot through his whole body and he wished he had at least a single piece of dry, warm cloth.
Holding on to each other, they stayed on the elevated road as they walked straight ahead for what seemed like hours.
Eventually, it started to snow. Thick flakes of pure cold seemed like an invisible companion, which soon turned into a blizzard.
Snippy had already lost the feeling in his hands and feet a while ago, and now his legs started to feel numb as well. It became a fight against his own body and he forced himself to keep moving.
Don't stop. If you stop, you will die.
Unable to tell how much longer he could keep this up, he defied the frost, gnashing his teeth. The numbness kept slowing him down and he came to a point where his legs refused to take another step.
Engie didn't notice until his hand stayed behind on the sniper's sleeve, giving him a jerk. He tugged, trying to pull him along, but his colleague didn't move at all.
"Come on, move, Charles. This is not the right place to rest!" Engie said.
Snippy felt ashamed and found it hard to explain his plight to the other man. He really didn't want to bother him with his weakness.
More pointless jolts from his colleague. His legs felt like they were frozen, and his ankles would hardly move.
The sniper attempted to take a step forwards, which only resulted in his ankle disobeying and causing him to fall to the ground. It happened almost automatically that Engie caught him up mid-fall, cradling him. He sank down in this position.
"God damn it. Say something..." Let me know you're still alive, the engineer begged desperately.
They just sat there in the snow, as the blizzard seemed to calm down a little.
Snippy heard him talk and opened his mouth, trying to say something, but words just wouldn't come out.
Is this what it feels like to die from cold?