The machete is light. You hold it in your right hand. There is a little bit of rust forming at the tip. You carefully place your fingers over the blade. Still sharp. You feel satisfied with your choice.
Walter is already by your side.
“You ready, champ?”
You look down at the machete.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Walter nods and signals to his men to head for the door. You look to see who they are. James, Travis, Megan, Pierce, and Dylan. You feel more at ease knowing that there are six other people — seven, including yourself — going out into street-level.
“You have your emergency kit?” Pierce asks.
You shake your head no.
“Okay, well, try not to get hurt today. I think Dylan might have an extra.”
Dylan winks at you. She looks about 40, but is surprisingly agile and her voice is youthful.
“I have a couple of extras, so don’t worry,” she says to you and Pierce.
You and the group walk down the stairs of the apartment building. All of the windows have been boarded up. You can see faint rays poking through the mismatched wooden boards. You see the security team on the first floor.
“Everything’s quiet here, Walt,” one of them says.
Walter nods at him.
“Alright, you know the drill,” Walter says to you and the group. “Single file, and don’t fucking talk.”
“Hey,” Walter says to you. “I need you up front to clear the brush. You okay with that?”
“Yeah, no problem,” you say. You feel anxious. You’ve never been at the front before. You start to think bringing a machete was a bad idea.
“Remember,” Walter says after you, “don’t fucking make loud noises.”
You give Walter a thumbs up, but you want to give him the finger too.
“I’ve got your back,” Travis whispers. “We all do.”
You take a deep breath and duck outside, into the bright and humid air. You take shelter next to a bus. You motion for the group. All clear, you signal. The group quickly follows your order. You peek around the corner of the bus. There is nothing but foliage. You look for a spot where you and the group can hide in. You spot a young tree. Its thick leaves should provide temporary cover. You signal to Walter. The tree. He nods. You take a deep breath and run.
You made it. You wave to the group. Come quick. One by one, the group members make their way to the tree. You and the group are now 1.5 blocks away from the apartment. Walter taps your shoulder. We have to head south, he signals. You nod. It is almost 50 blocks to the Lower East Side.
You spot cover on the next block and you move. The group follows you.
You make it down to 31st Street and Lexington. Everything has been quiet. You nor anyone else has seen a marauder or SDF, the Special Defense Forces. Walter taps you on your shoulder. He gives you a thumbs up. You’re doing a good job. You nod. You turn your head facing south. You smell something. It’s fire.
There is a building on fire somewhere. That means there was a raid. You go into panic mode. You can see that everyone else is too. Walter signals to everyone. We need to find shelter. You peek around the corner of 31st Street, towards the west side. You see the SDF. It is a patrol. There are five of them. You turn to Walter and the group. Five SDF coming our way, you signal. You can see that everyone is bristling with anxiety. Walter looks around the corner. He motions to you. Ambush or find a place to lay low?
What will you suggest?