(3♦︎) Rather than try the levi-lift, they opted for the exterior stairwell.
A yipping howl reached them as they turned ‘round the second-floor landing. The sergeant made to carry on, but the dark-haired man plucked at his sleeve.
“You didn’t hear that?” the dark haired man asked.
“Just some dog.” The sergeant’s sleeve slipped free as he shrugged.
“No,” the dark-haired man said. “That’s a sentinel hound’s warning.”
“Close,” the corporal said. He rummaged through his pack, and pulled out a scuffed far-seer tube. He put it to one eye, squinting the other as he swept his gaze across the copse of trees along the far side of the development.
They’d skirted the edge of the recreational park on their way to the housing bloc the night before. The yipping bark repeated, to be joined by another. Shadows roiled in the half-light, and as they began to move, they became discernible even without the aid of the far-seer.
“Wargs.” The sergeant’s growl might well have been that of one of the shaggy wolf-like forms that skulked beneath the tree line. “To think we almost—”
“We have to get down there!” The corporal hitched his gear, and pushed past the other two men, taking every second or third step down, just slow enough to keep his pack from pulling him too far off balance.
The dark-haired man followed the corporal’s sightline, sucking in a breath as he caught sight of what had the other man in such a hurry.
At the edge of the park, where the paving gave way to close-cut grass, a girl stood, staring upward at the swirling fall of ash, oblivious to the three hunched dog-like creatures that loped from the trees.