Nightfall found Esau moving from rooftop to rooftop, a scarf wrapped around his face, its tattered and frayed edges flapping in the wind behind him like broken wings. Below him the city slept. The elders had reduced the guard presence after a night without any deaths. It was a stupid decision, but it suited Esau just find. After all, if the prey were easier to hunt, then the machine was more likely to make its presence known. And if it did, Esau would be there, and he would destroy it. He would shatter it, and he would take the pieces home with him, another trophy, like the rifle, the goggles, the dog tags he had taken over the years, the armored vests that had not been armored enough.
“Where are you?” he whispered to himself as he watched a lone guard wander through an alley far below him. “Are you hiding in some darkened corner licking your wounds, repairing yourself? Did you lose too much oil and shut down alone and forgotten, like so much trash left to rust and decay?” He hoped not. He still hadn’t seen the thing truly. He hadn’t seen what it was capable of. He hadn’t tested it.
He hadn’t tested himself against it.
The elders had told him to abandon his hunt, that the thing was surely deactivated somewhere but he ignored them. Even if it were so, the city was not safe until such a thing could be said for certain. Even if it were so, he had to find it himself.
Esau sighed, lost in his thoughts. He almost didn’t hear the noise behind him, the sound of metal scratching on concrete. He didn’t hear it until it was right on top of him, and then the darkness of the night became complete.