LEAH GRABBED THE SALVAGE AND RAN. Metal and plastic clattered and rattled in the cloth bag hanging around her shoulders as she threw herself down the slope, slipping and sliding on the loose earth. The lights of the encampment behind her cast long shadows across the ground but made it just about possible to see where she was going. She heard the Wild Ones shouting as they ran towards the pile of discarded circuit boards, wires, and lumps of rusted iron she'd just raided. She felt the familiar rush of adrenaline, and a smile slid across her face. She let gravity do its job, pulling her faster and faster down the hill until she was afraid she'd topple forward.
A dark shape reared up out of the gloom—a woman armed with a heavy wooden club. The woman swung the weapon at Leah's head. Leah dived to the right. She landed awkwardly, the bag caught beneath her. Something hard dug into her ribs, a piece of metal or the big circuit board she'd found buried at the bottom of the salvage pile. She cried out, winced.
The woman shouted, “Weasel's over here, boys.”
Leah pulled herself to her feet and took off running again. She risked a backwards glance. The woman was out of shape and weighed down by layers of heavy animal furs, and she was already falling back. There were others, though—two men, leaner and less encumbered. They were past the woman and gaining on Leah. She zigged and zagged, trying to confuse the men and slow them down, but they were too close. She needed to get out of their line of sight; she couldn't let them follow her back to the City.
Leah yelped in surprise. She'd never been shot at before. For a moment, she considered throwing the bag away and giving up on the day's bounty. But she couldn't go home empty-handed.
She ran towards another hill. The ground beneath her feet became harder. That made it easier to run, but she had to dodge stones and rocks. Twice she nearly tripped and fell.
Another glance back showed her the men had slowed. One of them held a longrifle to his shoulder. Leah ducked as another gunshot rang out, and the bullet ricocheted off a nearby boulder. She pushed harder, desperate to reach the top of the hill, expecting any second to feel the punch of a bullet hitting her in the back. Another shot whined past her ear as she reached the crest. She flinched and threw herself forward.