I was playing Metro 2033 and decided since I love the post-apocalyptic setting so much, I should just get on with it and write a story in that setting. So as a warning, this will probably be heavily laden with clichés from other post-apocalyptic media that I've consumed.

Also, offensive language and offensive viewpoints because my characters are idiots.

Chapter 1

With a grunt from the bruising recoil of the rifle, Val watched her target crumple into the darkness below. She squinted against the harsh glare from the searchlights sweeping around the wall's perimeter. Val had always thought them more of an annoyance than anything else.

She reloaded as the sounds of gunfire from the pit picked up, and she watched as flashes lit brief scenes in seizure inducing fits of energy. She gritted her teeth, barely seeing a small figure crawl out of the pit and start edging their way to the wall. Waiting until the light had passed over it, Val confirmed it didn't have the blue half-circle painted on its back and fired.

A grenade shook the earth, and the walls clattered together; the layers and layers of welded metal almost chattering in anticipation. Val merely sighed, and pushed the helmet higher up on her head. It was going to be a long night.

"Coffee," the youth said as he passed a steaming mug to Val. "Or shit, whichever you want to call it really."

She raised an eyebrow and gratefully accepted it, heavily breathing in the instant's fumes. Sure it tasted awful and gave her stomachaches, but it was better than nothing.

Passing it back, Val leaned forward and rested her arms on her legs. They hadn't lost too many last night, only twelve dead and another sixteen wounded. She was exhausted yet wired, still seeing afterimages of exploding lights.

With a shake of her head, Val decided to hit the showers before taking off to her little hovel to sleep the day away. Pushing the dirt and blood streaked door open, Val paused when she saw there were two others already using the showers. She gave a little shrug before continuing in anyways, stripping off her grimy armor and clothing before throwing them in a little pile in front of her locker.

The one light flickered a few times, getting a couple of curses out of one of the men. That was followed by a hiccup in the water and they both yelped at a shower that had suddenly become either too hot or too cold.

Val snickered as she walked naked to stand under one of the other empty nozzles and let very cold water wash over her. That was alright though. It was clean, which was better than she could say for three quarters of the plumbing in the rest of the town.

One of the men, Will she thought, called out to her, "Hey, how many'd you drop?"

"I dunno…" Val thought carefully before grinning over at them. "Probably around ten."

The other man whistled. "Fuck, I only took three. Guess that's what I get for not getting a cushy job on the wall. Then again that's all broads are good for. You can't take real combat like a man can."

"Shove it up your ass Curt." Val gave him the finger and reached over to pour a tiny amount of shampoo in her hand, it would have to be used for her entire body. She added almost as an after shot. "And I only got it cause I can hit things farther away than a meter, unlike someone I know."

Will whistled. "Bitch's got you there. You and that shotgun of yours have a hard time hitting the broadside of a barn."

"Fuck y'all! You know that's only 'cause my glasses were totaled in that raid four months ago!"

Val snickered again and rapidly began running the sparse lather over her scarred body. That deep, nasty one that started at the left shoulder and nearly cut her breast in two, the one where the bullet had gotten lodged in her pelvic bone, the one where the fucker had broken her nose—each mark told a story, and Val told herself that each mark made her strong. Her body was a testament to her will to survive and that was that.

Will and Curt left before she finished, leaving her all alone as the other guards had already went home long before Val. That was fine with her, less noise and crowding that way.

Finally done, Val ran a hand through her short, salt-and-pepper hair, spiking it up as she only gave a cursory glance at the mirror in passing. Making herself look presentable just didn't seem too big a thing on her list of things to do.

Then she dried off with a ragged towel and hastily crawled into her civilian clothes: faded green plaid shirt with a down vest overtop, pistol holster, jeans and hiking boots. Val's guard uniform went into the bin with her name on it and would be cleaned by the time her shift started in the evening.

One last pat to her pocket confirmed her keys were still there. Then Val turned the lights off and went through the slowly livening halls. When she finally left the guard post, she stepped out into full dawn. Hazy light stretched out overtop the expanse of the town and turned the thin trails of smoke gold. For a moment, Val could almost pretend the world was beautiful.

But it wasn't.

As she started down the road consisting of mud and chunks of concrete, below the rays of light, she could see what it really was.

Pathetic, was always the first word to cross her mind. People were just pathetic. It was seventy-three years after ALE (some ass had thought the phrase After Life's End was clever and it had stuck, though the acronym was sufficiently amusing), and everyone was still living in slums. Sure there were the privileged few as there always had been, but otherwise she got no water, light in the summer, and heat in the winter. And Val was amongst those better off.

Val arrived at her own slice of hell. The four-story apartment building charmingly clinging on to the brass lettered name 'Springside Apartments'. She gave a little wave to the receptionist who blinked back dully. Past the pit that had once held an elevator, now filled with dirt that hosted a lonely fern (they called it Lara for some reason), and then up the stairs that smelled suspiciously of piss and vomit.

At her rooms, 4-6, Val breathed a little easier and slipped in past the graffiti ruined door. Once inside, she locked and bolted it then turned to look at her three-room apartment. The window she kept as clean as possible gave a great view of the sluggish, brown river, and also the now glaringly bright rising sun.

With a grimace, she crossed the room and closed the blinds. Slotted light patterned the mattress on the floor and the two cardboard apple boxes that held all the things she didn't care about getting stolen. The bathroom was where she kept her important stuff, hidden underneath the unusable shower's basin.

Deciding that making dinner/breakfast was too much effort, Val ignored her growling stomach and shrugged out of her clothes, choosing as always to sleep in the nude. One of her only constant luxuries.

When the sparse amounts of light faded from her face, Val always woke up as if she actually had an alarm. After having been on the nightshift for over ten years, she was now unable to sleep at night.

With a stretch and a yawn, Val luxuriated in the feeling of the sheets on her skin only one more moment before flinging her hand into a cardboard box to wear the first thing she grasped. She knew she should be wearing something a little nicer since some of her friends were taking her over to the Blue Moon for breakfast.

On went the sports bra, same old, ratty tank top and denim jacket. By the time she'd finished lacing her boots, someone was knocking on the door.

"Hey asshole, open up before I kick it down."

"As if you could." Val grinned as she unbolted and unlocked it, opening the door to reveal her friends Cam and Aura.

Cam had made sure to pose right on the verge of giving the door a boot. He took his hands out of his pockets and raised them in defeat. "Oh 'ey, I wasn't doing nothing." Sweeping a hand through tightly cropped, curly blonde hair, he elbowed Aura in the side. "Was all 'er."

Aura rolled her eyes and rasped in a barely existent voice. "Hurry up. We only got two hours." She'd almost died from the attempted garrote, but the tough bitch had made it with only that voice and a faint scar across her throat as any signifier.

Rolling her eyes, Val made sure everything she needed was stashed on her person. "Kay, let's go. I wouldn't want to deny you guys your fucking."

Cam slung an arm around her shoulders as they went down the stairs. "That's what I like about you Val. Your considate or something."

"Considerate you idiot. How can you not know that?" Aura pushed him down the stairs and Val laughed as they struggled until the bottom.

They went out into the muggy night, swatting at the mosquitoes that seemed as resistant to apocalypses as cockroaches were famed to be. Lucky for them, the Blue Moon was right on the way to the post from Val's apartment building. Its tacky neon sign shone like a beacon amongst the other dim or dark buildings beside it.

If Val was being honest, the Blue Moon deserved that recognition. Other than some of the traders, it was the richest business in the town of Old Dev and drew people from miles around. It professed to be the classiest place that was still affordable, serving luxury food and alcohol from as far away as either coast.

But really, it was just a whorehouse.

As they pushed past two very burly looking men to enter the smoke, perfume and food soaked atmosphere, Val gave a little inward sigh. She'd be the first to support the Blue Moon's right to exist, and the last to ever use its services.

Cam started nearly bouncing like an overeager puppy beside her and said, "We'll meet you at the usual table in about an hour?"

Val gave a little salute and went to get the table between wall and staircase. She flopped down into it, summoning a waitress over to get her some heavily caffeinated coffee. Sipping it, she watched Aura slowly walk down the line of male whores, always carefully choosing one to suit her current mood. Cam of course had chosen his favorite and was already up stairs fucking in one of the quickie rooms.

After Aura had disappeared, Val fell into her habit of watching the crowd, picking away at some mystery stew that had a no taste. About fifteen minutes into her vigil, she saw a new whore coming down the stairs.

Dressed all in blue of every shade, she had little bells chiming from her ankles and wrists with each step she took. Auburn hair had been impeccably groomed into cascade of glimmering waves that hung just below her shoulders. What really had attracted Val's attention was the way the whore carried her tall, slender frame—as if she was better than every single person in the room, but didn't mind talking with them. It was interesting to say the least.

When the waitress wandered back to Val's table, she asked after the whore now sitting in one of the booths that let the customers know they were available at the moment.

"Oh," the waitress chuckled. "I didn't know you were interested in that sort Val."

"I'm not. I just thought I knew everyone that works here."

The waitress waved her hand to signify it had been a joke. "That's 'Blue Bell'. Apparently she's from one of the big cities out east. The cook tells me she worked in one of those really high class brothels you know?"

Val raised an eyebrow. "And I'm guessing she was damn expensive."

"Oh yes." An emphatic nod. "He won't let her give more than a blowjob without the customer first going to him to see if it's alright. But I don' know, I think she'll be worth it. We are on the new trade route you know."

Closing her eyes, Val tried not to think of all the new problems they'd been having since their new 'blessing'. "Don't I know it."