This is a story about a near-future dystopia. In that future, society has collapsed. This tale presents a vignette of the resulting order of things.
This tale is also a simple example or a demo of the output from an easy to use Content Management System for creating WCAG accessible online or HTML web based comic books or illustrated novels like this one. The CMS in this implementation presents as the Storybook Comic Book Builder. The content for Storybook can be plain text, an animation with or without a caption, or just an image with or without a caption. Or it can be a combination of both text and images as seen on some of the following pages.
After the great collapse, or as some called it, the "Reset", had left society in disorder, large numbers of the survivors were held in what were euphemistically called "Enclaves". After the collapse no one used the term "refugee camp" anymore, these were after all simply internment centers. Enclaves was a more palatable expression. People frequently left the questionable safety of the enclaves in an erstwhile yet almost invariably futile quest for some nebulous concept they called "freedom".
But the old world continued in spin...
Finally an armed government and a few private armies substituted for the former rule of law. The plutocratic oligarchy which kept these forces "on retainer" assumed an interest in limiting the success of those who left the enclaves. No one used the word "escaped", it was always "left". It almost made it seem as though the "resident population" was free to depart at any time. And indeed they were, after a rude fashion.
For those bearing arms it was less a situation of feeling like paid mercenaries than it was a situation of simple survival. You were either part of ComCore or you were a hostile. And being a hostile generally meant a reduced life expectancy. If there was a choice it was straight up which way to choose.
It had been a quiet shift for the crew of Hornet, and it was just a few minutes before mess call when Hornet picked up the hostile group and her crew commed Dragonfly.
The almost omniscient eye of Dragonfly had detected hostiles within the span of Hornet's "area of responsibility", and Hornet had been deployed to interdict them. When Hornet located the group she quickly responded within protocol to report the results of the drone assisted forward scan. Mess call would have to wait, but not for any longer than necessary.
Terms like "hostiles" and "area of responsibility" and "execute procedure" made the whole thing somewhat technical and impersonal. It allowed for a calmer and closer focus on the task at hand when that task wasn't rudely expressed as "killing people". It's just a job, I do it to survive was a widely held perspective among the minion class.
In the way that had ever been the manner of such paladins, everything was done in a measured way according to the ritual of protocol.
The pop of the compressed gas that blew the little missile out of its launch tube before ignition followed by the short "fwoosssshhh" of the rocket before it was quickly gone in a trail of exhaust smoke punctuated Hornet's terse announcement to Dragonfly.
The gods of the robot factories that fabricated the little missiles had become ever more talented at their manufacturing craft, and so it was that Hornet was virtually always successful in executing a procedure, thus preventing yet another group of hostiles from reaching the promised land, at least not in this lifetime.
It was a good time to break for chow, a fitting reward for a successful run. Tomorrow Hornet would participate in a verification check for their just completed procedure.
The next morning broke clear and calm and Hornet was soon aloft above last night's target site. For reasons that were held close and secret, ComCore insisted that all such target sites be "sanitized". Hornet would provide aerial security for the grunts and joeboys that would do that. From up here, except for the residual fires, it all looked calm and peaceful as the joeboys slowly moved in from 4 o'clock.