Reviews would be great
Harley and Spider crept through the streets around BL/ind HQ, making their way cautiously towards the warehouse where the Trans Am was stashed. The smallest sounds set their teeth on edge and every movement in the shadows prompted them to duck. By the time they reached the correct building both were wound so tightly they jumped at the echo of their own footsteps.
"Party Poison might not be here until 6pm... That's if he makes out of BLi." She stressed over the thought of her new found friend trapped in there, not realizing the danger he was in. "Korse might not think to look for the drac that was with me when I arrived, he's only guilty really by association."
Spider Bait patted her shoulder gently. "Don't agonize over it. Party's a sharp guy, he'll cotton onto the fact that somethings up pretty fast and get out of there. Korse wont catch him."
"I hope you're right." she whispered and opened the door to the warehouse.
What they both saw on the other side lifted their hearts and Harley cried out with joy. "Rabid!" she shrieked and leapt towards the Trans Am.
Roulette looked up and saw her best friend bound towards her, arms outstretched. She grinned and flung herself into them, squeezing the blonde woman tightly. "Harley you idiot, I can't believe you risked everything to come get me! Have I taught you nothing about self preservation?"
Harley shook her head. "Nope, not a thing."
Roulette kissed her cheek firmly and disentangled herself slowly. "I'm loving hugs right now, but my ribs aren't up to it right now."
"That bastard!" Harley snarled at the thought of Korse. "I never want to see his face again!"
Bob and Gerard stood to one side, arms slung over each others shoulders.
"So what's going on?" Spider asked, still confused. "All I know is that one moment I'm running a hack on BLi and the next I'm dragging a hysterical crew leader out of the place I spent a day trying to get into!"
Party shook his head. "It's a long story, I'm just fucking glad that Harley found you."
"Shit!" Diamond shrieked.
"Huh?" Roulette jumped at the outburst.
"We've got to go, right now!" she cried. The rebel pushed Gerard towards the car. He let himself be forced into the car, eyes wide with confusion.
"Oh yeah, Korse knows that Harlequin and I were in BLi HQ and is probably organizing search units of dracs right now." Bob stated, kind of detached. He still didn't understand why his mission was interrupted, or how the three leaders of the main crew in the Californian zones happened to be working together within Battery City.
"So lets get out of here!" Harley demanded and helped her friend into the back seat. Roulette needed no second warning, she scooted across the seats and yanked Harlequin in after her.
Spider Bait paused as Party started the engine. "My motor bike's two buildings down from here. If we're followed we have a better chance taking them out with two vehicles."
Gerard nodded. "Go!"
Bob ran to the garage door of the shed and rolled it back for the Trans Am. He sprinted along the pathway, caution thrown to the wind, towards his bike's hiding place.
Party kept the engine as quiet as he could as he slipped the nose of the car out into the street.
A few tense moments passed before Spider Bait hurtled towards them on his old Harley Davidson.
Roulette let out a stress induced giggle and nudged Diamond. "Haha, Harley Davidson. Get it Harley?"
Gerard rolled his eyes at the comment and swung the large muscle car out into the alleyway, accelerating after his crew mate. The engine growled softly, Party tried to keep the revs as even as possible to stop the tell tale sound of their escape.
The streets of Battery City were beginning to buzz with the early afternoon rush hour, however Gerard skillfully maneuvered the Trans Am between civilian cars, keeping his eyes fixed on the tail light of Bob's bike.
Drugged up passengers pressed their faces dopily against the windows of their cars, brains trying to comprehend the concept of speeding.
Rabid flipped one off and pulled a face at the two young kids in the back of a car.
"Really Roulette?" Harley raised an eyebrow at her friend.
Bonnie grinned maniacally. "My brain's been totally screwed the past few days. I have special permission to act like a toddler.' She went back to gesturing insultingly at the passing cars.
Gerard look in the rear vision mirror, trying to ignore the childish antics of Roulette and watched for any signs of pursuit as they took the exit to the old city.
There were none.
He let out a sigh of relief and grinned at the two girls in the back. "We're on our way home ladies."
"Mission completed." Harley smiled and rubbed here tired eyes.
"I can't wait to take a bath." Roulette beamed at the thought of being clean. All she wanted to do was wash the feeling of drac skin on hers away.
Abbey trembled on the back of the drac motorbike. She watched the old city fly past in a blur of grey and white, tighly hugging to the man driving the bike. At first she had sat as far back from him as she could, however once they picked up the pace she couldn't help but cling to him like a limpet.
Stuart felt bad for the oblivious civilian on the back of his ride. He knew what Korse had planned for her, and couldn't help but feel remorse at the thought of dumping her in the old subway. He shook off the nagging of is conscience and accelerated faster. The rebels would be following soon after him, trying to escape the city and he couldn't afford crossing paths with them.
The derelict train station was quiet when they reached it. A bottle rattled across the road in the slight wind, the only movement. Before them lay the dark maw of the subway tunnel, blown open by a rebel bomb. Electrical wires hung in loops from the ceiling, glistening in the fading daylight. Stuart shivered and switched his light to high beam before steering his bike down into the deep hole.
Abbey repressed a scream as they plunged into darkness. She wasn't afraid of enclosed spaces, but the thought of being lost in this pitch black shaft horrified her.
Stuart guided the bike carefully around great concrete lumps strewn across the subway landing. There was a slight scent of rot in the thick, musty air. The decay was from the fast food restaurants lining the platform... and from more sinister things. He shook off the irrational fear creeping into his mind and jumped the bike off the landing. It fell through blackness for a sickening second before landing safely on the railway line. Abbey shrieked at the unexpected drop and squeezed the drac harder.
Stuart gasped and tapped her arm. She loosened her grip slightly, but couldn't find the guts to let go completely.
The drac flicked the GPS screen in built to his handle and recorded the distance they travelled. The tunnel sloped downwards for a while before leveling out deep underground. There was no sound, apart from the quiet hum of the engine and Abbey's stressed breathing.
The GPS bleeped once and Stuart knew that they had passed beneath the Battery City wall. He travelled on for another kilometer and then kept an eye out for the large support pylons that lined the tunnel at regular intervals. When one was illuminated at the edge of the bikes light beam he braked to a stop.
Abbey shivered, the tiled tunnel was like an icy tomb. She shaking hopped off the bike and stood to one side, eyes fixed on the dark shape of the draculoid who bought her here.
Stuart opened the small storage unit at the back of the bike and pulled out the bag containing the explosives. He passed these to the girl and gestured at the pylon. "St-trap one of these to that p-pillar and p-p-press the green button on it. Follow the t-tunnel until you reach the next pylon and do the same for it. Keep d-doing that until you've planted all five of the b-b-bombs."
Abbey nodded and gratefully accepted the flashlight the drac handed to her.
"After that you are to come back to this pylon and radio K-Korse for instruction." Abbey ran her hand across her pocket and felt the hard lump of the transmitter.
Stuart kicked his bike back to life. The powerful light illuminated the shaking girl, her huge shadow was thrown against the wall like a monster. Abbey's lime eyes sparkled with fear as he turned the vehicle around and accelerated back towards the tunnel entrance.
As the motor bikes light was swallowed by the darkness Abbey couldn't help by cry out fearfully. Her hands fumbled as she tried to find the switch on the torch, but it slipped from her fingers. It clattered noisily on the floor.
"No!" she cried and dropped to the icy ground, patting around blindly for the light. She tried not sob at the thought of being lost in the dark forever. The faint smell of old decay clogged her throat, making her gag on her terror. "Pull yourself together!" she shouted at herself and began to sweep her arm in deliberate arcs across the floor.
When her palm finally felt the rigid plastic she snatched the torch back to her chest and let out a long, shaky breath. She flicked the switch and light burst from the lens. The glow revealed the dust her fingers had swirled into the air, now gently settling back to the tunnel floor.
The light didn't reach far, but she was partially thankful for this. Whatever lay concealed behind the blanket of darkness she didn't want to know. Instead Abbey made her way towards the large pylon, bag of explosives gripped tightly in her hand. In there with the C4 was also five straps. Using these she gently tied one of the incendiaries to the column. She held the torch in her teeth, trying to keep the light on her working hands.
Imbedded in the bomb was a small, flat panel with three buttons. One was white, one was red and one was green.
She paused, hoping that she had heard the drac right and pressed the green one gingerly.
A light blinked beneath what she had thought was a white button, but nothing else happened.
Abbey bit her lip, trying to quell her nerves and concentrate on the task at hand. She shrugged the bag full of deadly explosives over her shoulder and gripped the torch in her hand. She cautiously kept the beam focused on the ground a few feet ahead of her, trying not to imagine what the light could uncover. Her palms were coated with sweat, making it difficult to grip the slippery plastic.
She walked for a decent length of time, the only sound being the isolated echo of her footsteps, ringing through the pitch black.
Finally, Abbey's light uncovered the next pylon. She ran towards it, somehow feeling safer next to the large object. She proceeded to apply the next bomb to the column. As she did so she pondered her situation. She didn't really understand why she had to do this so quickly. The circumstances of her being there felt off. There was a churning in her stomach, telling her that something was wrong.
Mikey fiddled with the can of food in his hands and sighed. There had been no word from Party Poison, and no indication that it would be coming anytime soon. Dr D told him to be patient, but he hated not knowing what was happening to his brother. Gerard had left so suddenly for Battery City, on such a foolhardy mission. Spider Bait was an important member of their crew and their life, but Kobra was terrified that his brother was grasping at straws by chasing after the ex drummer right into BLi territory.
Fun Ghoul slipped into the kitchen and rummaged through the pantry for something to eat. He tried not to draw too much attention from Mikey; they weren't on speaking terms exactly, however he couldn't help the groan when his quest for food only turned up Power Pup. They Killjoys hadn't gone to find decent supplies for days, and anything edible left in the Diner wasn't exactly appetizing.
"There's nothing in the garage stock either." Mikey piped up. "I've already checked." He slid his half full tin of dog food towards the shorter man, trying to bridge the silence between them.
Frank watched Kobra's face carefully, before deciding that the man was genuinely trying to patch up their friendship. "I think if I have to eat another spoonful of this 'pre-moistened kibble' shit I'll actually throw myself into the desert. It'd be a faster death than what this stuff'll do for us." He grinned and spooned a mouthful of the greasy sludge down his throat, trying not to gag.
Mikey smiled back. "Sorry for being such a jerk."
"I'm sorry too for not being a Killjoy before a zonerunner. You guys mean everything to me, and I need to be careful of that. If anything happened to you Mikes because I trusted the wrong person..." He shook his head at the thought.
Kobra stood up and went over to Frank and hugged him tightly. "Don't think that you did the wrong thing. Renegade's your friend, a close friend. If you trust him, then I do too."
Fun Ghoul squeezed Mikey back. He couldn't help but notice the defined bones beneath Kobra's shirt. "God Mikes you've gotten thin!"
Kobra winced. "Yeah... I guess I don't like the taste of dog food very much."
Frank rolled his eyes. "We're going to go find some better food, tomorrow."
"But Gee said to stay-"
"I don't care." Frank cupped his friends face in his inked hands. "You need to start taking better care of yourself, because there's no doctor out here to help the little fuckers like us."
Abbey tightened the strap around the last of the explosives, firmly securing it to the pylon. She slung the bag, now much lighter, over her shoulder and began the long walk back to her original position. On the way she counted the columns carefully, not wanting to go too far or not far enough. However she was sure that she was at the last one once she had counted five because of the old coca cola sign plastered across the tiled wall.
"Hear the happiness being released with the opening of each bottle." she murmured, reading the yellowed words.
She dug into her pocket and pulled out the radio transmitter. She stared at the device cluelessly, before pressing a few buttons experimentally. When her thumb happened to hit one she didn't notice on the side, she was relieved to hear a faint bleep. "Hey? Um Korse or someone are you there?"
"Hello Abbey." the dark voice was instantly recognizable. "Have you followed my instructions?"
She nodded, realized the flaw with nodding and hastily followed it with a yes.
"Good. Now I want you to walk to the next pylon on the way back to the tunnel entrance."
"Okay." she kept the transmitter pressed firmly against her ear, strangely comforted by someone else's voice.
While she moved the Scarecrow told her what to do next.
"Now Abbey, in about fifteen minutes you're going to hear a car coming through the tunnel."
"Are they going to pick me up?" she felt relief swell up inside her. She couldn't wait to get out of the dank, musty tunnel and into the light.
Korse swallowed his annoyance at the interruption. "No they will not."
Abbey's mouth formed a little "o" and her face crumpled. "Then who are they?"
"Who they are doesn't really concern you. All you need to know is that there is a blonde man in the car, with two other women and perhaps another man..." Korse was currently puzzling over the identity of Roulette's rescuer. The only person he could think of who would be desperate enough to save her was Maverick, however the drac that came into the building this morning wasn't nearly tall enough. Maverick was pushing six and a half feet; a mammoth of a guy. The man who Korse saw had been slight and uncommonly graceful in his actions.
Abbey could see the pylon ahead of her in the far edge of her torches light. She hurried towards it and tried not to comment on the sudden silence coming from Korse's end.
"Anyway, the point is that I want you to sit there and wait for this car to come along. When it's just about to pass you, I want you to aim with that gun I gave you, and shoot out one of it's tires. You are then to press the red button beneath a flap on this transmitter. Not very hard now is it?"
"You w-want me to do what!?" she gasped. Abbey didn't know much about cars or explosives, but she did know that blowing out a tyre wasn't a good thing, and the bombs that she had planted before looked serious enough to collapse the roof on the people in the car.
Korse rolled his eyes on the other end. "Do you want your boyfriend to be here when you get back?"
"Then shoot that fucking car and blow the tunnel." He shouted at her.
Abbey knew that he wasn't bluffing. He had no reason to keep Anton alive, except to use as leverage.
"What?" he growled.
"How do you use a gun?" she inspected the almost childish, plastic weapon. It reminded her of the old water pistols her and her friends played with as kids.
The Scarecrow pinched the bridge of his nose on the other end, trying not to loose his temper with the girl. "You've never shot a ray gun. Fabulous."
"Up until a few hours ago I didn't even know these things existed!" she exclaimed. "I don't even know what's really going on and I have no real idea of who you are or what the fuck I am doing down here!" Her temper was beginning to crack too.
Korse couldn't help but grin, he hadn't had someone shout at him for a while. It amused him, although it wasn't something he wanted to have happen every day. "Abbey, there's a dial on the side. Twist it all the all the way to the left to increase the magnitude."
Abbey shone the torch shakily on her hands and the gun, transmitter pressed between her shoulder and ear. She could see a dial, and she hoped that it was the right one. She twisted it and felt the gun hum for a second, before quieting again, slightly warmer than it was before. "Okay, done."
"Now, just aim and shoot. The safety catch has already been disabled. It's not that hard kid."
Abbey screwed up her nose. "How do I aim?"
"I'm never sending a girl to do a man's job, ever again." He groaned.
"Me being a girl has got nothing to do with it!" she cried out indignantly. "The boy living next door to me would be asking the same thing."
"Whatever. When you're aiming, there's two points on the ridge of the gun, one at the tip of the nose, another at the back. Line them up with your target."
Abbey experimentally aimed the gun into the darkness, closing one eye so that she could see the small points properly. "I think I understand."
"So what happens after I blow up the tunnel."
Korse paused, he didn't think the girl would be alive then. When she set off the explosives the tunnel would collapse for a few hundred meters in either direction. "Call me."
Abbey chewed her lip nervously, not wanting to hang up. "Okay, so shoot the tyre out, press the red button and call you."
"Exactly, and kid?"
Spider Bait pulled up next to the derelict train station. He deliberated heading straight in, but some instinct was buzzing in his head, telling him to wait.
It was very quiet. The only sound was the faint rustling of papers creeping across the ground in the slight breeze and a hollow moan coming from the gaping hole in the ground. Bob assumed that this was the desert wind, blowing through the tunnel.
A few minutes later Party Poison pulled up in the Trans Am. The noisy engine was cut off and Gerard stepped out from the car.
"Hey Spider, what's happening?" he called out. Harlequin stuck her head out the window and raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"I dunno, I just think that something's strange." He replied.
"Have you seen any-" Party's question was cut off as a drac bike burst from the tunnel. It's driver saw the zonerunners, swerved hard and accelerated away hard into a thin alleyway.
Spider Bait jumped on his bike and was about to give chase, but Gerard held up his hand. "No! Don't follow it!"
Bob cursed the drac, "But now the fucker will know how the rebels are getting into the city. We have to take him out!"
"Spider." Party growled, layers of authority coating his tone. "He has a radio on that bike. He could be relaying that knowledge to Korse right now. We need to get out of this city while we still have the chance."
"Fine, but I bet we could have caught it in time." Bob kicked his engine to life savagely and drove straight into the tunnel mouth, without another word.
Gerard rolled his eyes, frustrated that Bob wasn't seeing his logic. He slipped back into the car and ignited the engine. It growled back at him softly and he patted the dashboard. "Almost home babe." He adjusted his ear vision mirror so that he wouldn't have to see the questioning sets of eyes staring back at his and turned up the stereo in the car.
While Party drove the Trans Am slowly, carefully into the gaping hole in the ground Harley couldn't help but notice the one thing that Spider and Poison hadn't. She quietly voiced her observations to Roulette.
"Hey Rabid, don't you think it's strange that a drac bike happened to be in the Traverse. I mean, why would it be down there in the first place?"
Roulette just shrugged and went back to tenderly poking her purple splotched ribs tentatively. She winced at the pain that shot straight through her torso, not really paying any attention to Harley's valid question.
Harlequin frowned at Rabid, annoyed at the lack of attention she was getting. "Hey Bonnie."
"Mhmmm.....?" Roulette didn't raise her head, even at the use of her real name.
"I found something precious of yours, something you've been missing for a while."
"Yes, yes I agree Harley."
Harlequin frowned and crossed her arms. "I'm planning on melting your precious Black Kite ray gun when I get home and then mould it into a plastic teacup."
"Whatever you think Harley, I just need to find the numbers... We'll talk more at home, okay?" Roulette yawned and leant back against the upholstery. She closed her eyes, planning on taking a nap when her best friend's words sunk in. "What did you say!?" she shrieked above the sound of Party's speakers.
"Only you could make such a loud noise with smashed lungs!" Gerard exclaimed, wincing.
Harley laughed and handed the pink weapon back to her ecstatic friend, still slightly peeved at being ignored, but happy at the reaction she had received.
"Ohmygawdthankyousomuchharleyyouarethecoolestbestestmostamazingfriendagirlcouldeverwant! Iloveyoutopieces!" Bonnie cried, trying to hug her friend side on.
"Yeah yeah, I know. You owe me." she ruffled Roulette's chocolate curls and tugged on the pink streaked fringe cheekily.
"Wait, so what happened?" Gerard asked, keeping his eyes however, glued on the beams of light the Trans Am was emitting. The tunnel was relatively clear further out from Battery, but in this section there had been a few zonerunner vehicles trashed after encountering large piles of unexpected debris.
"Harley got my precious gun back for me." Roulette purred and stroked the weapon lovingly.
Gerard smiled briefly, able to sympathize with the woman's attachment to her firearm. He had similar affection for his yellow ray gun. His thoughts returned to the all-but-concealed road ahead. Bob had been completely swallowed by the gloom, not even a faint glow of his taillights visible. He slowed down slightly, increasing the distance between the bike and car. He didn't like driving close behind someone else in this tunnel. If anything were to happen to Bob he wasn't sure if he'd be able to pull up in time. The slower he went (without driving like a grandma), the better.
Stuart pulled up in an empty garage, somewhere on the edge of the old city. He couldn't hear any signs of pursuit.
"Fuck that was close!" he gasped and fumbled for his phone. There was one bar of reception, thankfully. The only coverage in the whole of California was in the city, however areas like this were rarely included.
He dialed Korse's number. This was a risky decision, as the Scarecrow's personal phone should only be contacted for extreme situations. However Stuart was sure that his cause was legitimate. There was no mistaking who he had seen about to drive into the tunnel.
The dial tone range for a few seconds, before clicking. A voice filled the speakers.
"This is Korse."
"S-sir! It's Stuart."
"This better be good boy." The voice growled.
The drac gulped a little. "Y-yes sir it is. I was just leaving the subway tunnel when I encountered the zonerunners we are trying to ambush."
On the other end Korse narrowed his eyes. Stuart was supposed to have been out of the tunnel by then. This could ruin the whole operation if the rebels suspected something. "Go on."
"I saw him with them. T-that is P-Party Poison sir. He was standing next to the Killoys Trans Am."
Korse grinned. "Are you sure Stuart? Is that who you saw?"
The drac felt relieved at the happy tone of his master. "Yes Korse, there was no mistaking him."
"Fabulous. We shall kill two birds with one stone then."
"What is it?" All the Scarecrow wanted to do was wait for confirmation that the tunnel had been collapsed and his scarlet haired enemy along with the leaders of the two biggest crews in California had been entombed.
"I don't know if this p-puts a hole in your p-plan, b-b-but there are now two vehicles in the tunnel." Stuart stuttered.
Korse cursed violently. If Abbey shot one and collapsed the tunnel before the other one came along..... He might loose his chance to crush the main powers of the resistance force.
Stuart held the phone away from his ear, startled by the loud swearing coming through the receiver. It was abruptly cut off as the Scarecrow hung up.
Back at BLi HQ Korse paced his room. He knew that it already might be too late to radio the girl and tell her to wait for two vehicles, not one. She might have already collapsed the tunnel. Hell, she might not even have to. The bastards might have sniffed out a rat when they saw Stuart and bolted.
"Fuck!" he shouted and slammed his fists down on the table. His bottle of vodka wobbled and tipped sideways. Clear liquor spread across the table, seeping into the various important documents scattered across the glass surface.
He stared at the mess and took in a slow, deliberate breath.
"I'll just radio her. It's been over 20 minutes and there's been no sign of an explosion yet. I need to know what's happening."
Abbey sucked in a sharp breath at the first sound of the approaching vehicle. Her palms were instantly glazed over with a sweat varnish that made gripping the unfamiliar body of the gun hard. She fumbled for a second before switching the torch off.
She was instantly submerged in the pool of black which rushed back to consume her in it's inky depths. Her senses kicked in, making up for her lack of sight. The ambiguous aroma of all things rotten trickled in through her nose with the dust of the decade past. Abbey slapped at the back of her neck. She was paranoid that something was touching her, so she pulled the hood of Anton's black jumper over her head. It was so big that for a moment it covered her eyes, not that it made much difference to her sight. She pushed it back up so that she could watch for the lights that were soon to follow the sound of an engine.
Her eyes did pick up a flickering glow, growing stronger fast. However, there was only one light. Abbey held the ray gun like she assumed she was meant to, and pointed it hopefully in the direction of the increasing beam. The sound of the vehicle was aggressive, but high pitched. It didn't sound like a car.
A reel of questions, explanations and worries spun around her head.
'Do I shoot? It's not a car, but I was still told to shoot at the front tyre. If it is the people Korse are trying to kill and I let them get away, the Anton would suffer....'
After a split second of decision, for that was all she had, Abbey aimed as straight as she could towards the approaching light, finger lightly touching the trigger.
When the source of the light got close enough, Abbey realized that she had been right; it wasn't a car. And yet this didn't stop her from adjusting her aim slightly and shooting at the speeding object.
Under most circumstances first time ray gun shooters would have missed their target by a few meters. Most beginners though, did not have the life of their boyfriend hanging over their heads. So you call it a fluke, or call it an intervention of fate, but Abbey Palini did not miss the approaching object.
When we use the term "miss" we mean that she managed to place a bullet onto her target. She did not miss in that respect. However if we were to specify that she had to hit the front tyre of the motor bike, then yeah, she missed. On the other hand though, if Korse had told her to aim for the driver of said vehicle, well put it this way; Abbey would have been taking home a gold.
Spider Bait felt as though a searingly hot knife had been driven through his stomach. The resounding crack that accompanied it reverberated off the walls of the tunnel, registering above the squealing tires of his bike. One hand clutched the brake, other instinctively wrapped over his torso.
When the vehicle finally came to a shuddering halt, he did not have the strength to hold it upright. Bob fell to one side, half pinned under the weight of the Harley Davidson. He gasped for a few moments in the dark and tried to get a grip on what had happened. The blood that was now spewing from a small wound in his stomach could only have been inflicted by a ray gun. He could smell the charred fabric of his jacket slightly smoking after coming into contact with such intense heat.
Through his thickening fog of agony, the ex drummer held onto one thought; that they must have been ambushed.
"Party... No!" he cried out in the darkness, not thinking clearly.
He struggled to push himself upright, but the excruciating pain of his wound hampered his efforts. Every move caused the injury to throb, sending shock through his system. He slumped back to the floor, and tried to calm his sudden sense of doom.
His panicked thoughts were frozen at the sound of quiet footsteps and somewhat uneven breathing. He reached into his pocket and slowly drew out his ray gun, holding it under his jacket with one hand, in a way which looked as though he was merely applying pressure to his wound. He slowly flicked the safety off. In the slanting beam of his motorbikes headlight he saw a pair of booted feet step forwards.
Abbey watched with a heightening sense of horror as the figure riding the bike doubled over and braked suddenly. It came to a grinding halt and both it and the man slumped to the ground with little resistance.
She chocked back a sob at what she had accomplished.
'I killed someone, oh my god I have actually killed someone!' She stared at the detonator in her hand and placed it gingerly in her pocket, deciding that there was no need to blow the tunnel. There had only been one person, and she had taken care of them. 'So easy,' she thought, 'how could it be so easy to pull the trigger?'
She stepped out from behind the column and took a few hesitant steps towards the heap on the tunnel floor.
"Party... No!" The man suddenly cried out.
Abbey started and swung the nose of the gun up, aiming at the apparently alive man. She paused for a minute and watched his labored breathing, trying to asses how much of a threat he was likely to be. 'Party?' she thought. 'What party? What the hell is he talking about a party for?'
In the pool of gloom that the motorbikes headlights cast she could see the amount of blood that was pouring from in between the man's fingers. It spilt on the floor in such an absurdly unrealistic way she almost felt the urge to laugh. The whole situation was hysterical.
She took a few more steps forward, trying to calm her deranged breathing. She clenched her teeth together to stop the insane giggle that threatened to burst from her lips. As her booted feet entered the strongest beams of light, she noticed the man go unnaturally still. His breathing became hushed, no longer obviously strenuous.
Abbey didn't know what to do. Something was telling her to shoot the man, but she couldn't stomach the thought of murdering someone who wasn't immediately hazardous to herself. She thought about Anton, trying to find enough steel in herself to do what was expected of her.
The man suddenly coughed, body heaving with the effort. He spat blood and groaned at the effort.
Abbey moved closer to him and knelt by his crumpled form. She placed a hand gently on his shoulder in some gesture of compassion.
"I'm sorry." she whispered.
The dark blonde head turned up to face her. In the subdued light it took her a moment to process what she was seeing. However there was no mistaking him. It was the man from the subway, the one who complemented her on her headphones. The man in the extermination poster.
Bob saw the recognition in the teenagers face. His thoughts weren't clear, but he knew that something wasn't right. BL/i wasn't sending kids in to do their dirty work, were they? But why else would some girl be down the Traverse, shooting at zonerunners? And how else would she recognize his face?
"It's you!" the girl cried. Bob wasn't sure, but he though he saw a flicker of excitement and happiness in her expression.
Not knowing how to react, not sure that he even could with a hole in his side, Spider Bait held his tongue and just stared back at her. She had wonderfully large, lime coloured eyes. They sparkled yellow and green in his blurry vision. He thought that he had seen someone once a long time ago with similar eyes, not unusual necessarily, just worth remembering.
"Do you remember me?" she asked him, a small smile twitching at her lips.
Bob paused before shaking his head slightly.
Her smile faltered for a second. "You told me once that you liked my headphones. We were in the tubes. You were the only person wearing any colour.... except for me."
In the hazy darkness of his shutting down brain Spider Bait caught hold of a memory, of a sad teenage girl with pink, gold and black checkered headphones sitting on a train. She had viridescent eyes that looked around her surroundings and actually saw them. She wasn't just gazing blankly like the others, she was actually responding to her world.
"I r-remember you..." he gurgled and tried to smile back at her.
A tear rolled down the girl's cheek. He didn't understand why. Surely she had meant to shoot him?
Suddenly a voice crackled through a transmitter in her pocket.
"Abbey, is there any sign of the car yet? There's been no signal from you for too long."
Bob felt hatred lump in his throat. The voice was unmistakable; Korse. He flinched away from the touch of the girl.
Right then it began to grow lighter, and a savage roaring rumbled towards them.
Spider Bait's sense of self preservation kicked in and he pulled the ray gun from his jacket. He swung it up and aimed at her head, which was turned to look at the approaching light. The innocent confusion on her face made him falter.
"Abbey!" Korse's voice shouted from the radio, breaking through Bob's hesitation.
'I cant let her get a shot at Gerard!' he thought and squeezed the trigger.
Party Poison hit the brakes hard and swerved to the left in a desperate attempt not to hit the two people. The Trans Am spun out of control for a second before shuddering to a stop, facing the wall.
Roulette and Harley gripped the seats, eyes wide with shock.
"Stay here." Gerard whispered as he grabbed his gun from the glovebox.
"But-" Harley protested.
"No!" Gerard hissed. "You stay here with Roulette. If her lungs begin to collapse and you're not here, she'll die."
Harlequin nodded, but he could tell she was nervous. "Be careful. This could be an ambush Party."
He stepped from the car into the dim tunnel. The headlights of his car combined with the motor bike's illuminated enough of the tunnel for him to see where he was going.
The bike was unmistakably Spider Bait's. Even in the faint light he could pin point the stenciling on the side.
Keeping his ray gun still handy, Gerard ran to the crumpled figure half under the heavy vehicle. As he got closer he could see the blood puddled beneath the person, mixing with the thick dust on the floor. When his eyes made out the familiar blonde head slumped on the ground he let out an anguished cry.
"Bob!" He threw himself down next to the man, initial caution forgotten.
Spider Bait weakly looked up at his friend, eyes wide with fear. "No... Gee you've got to.... run!" he coughed out, trying to push Gerard away from him.
A sob tore itself from Party's throat. He could see the gaping wound in Bob's side. He knew what it meant. "No! You're coming with us. We're going to get you home!"
He pushed the bike off his friends legs, muscles bulging at the weight.
"I'm going to lift you." He told Spider. "I need you to hold onto my neck, ok?"
Bob shook his head. "Party, you don't cough cough understand! You're in danger. She's got a gun-"
Gerard froze. He had forgotten. There had been someone with Bob when he swerved the car.
As if to confirm his thoughts a voice rang out in the tunnel.
"Drop your weapons!" it shrieked from the shadows to the right.
Gerard looked up, trying to discern where the person was.
"Right now; or I will shoot!"
He snarled slightly, furious at being outwitted.
Unable to discern the source of the voice, Party reluctantly placed his ray gun on the ground and slid it towards the shadows.
Abbey saw the nose of the gun in the corner of her vision and ducked, right as the approaching car swerved to miss them. The shot that rang out next to her head sent adrenaline coursing through her system. She leapt away from the dangerous man on the ground and retreated into the shadows at the side. Her heart was pounding in her chest.
'He was going to kill me!' she thought, upset at the notion. 'If I had moved a second later...'
She crouched behind a lump of concrete and watched as a man stepped from the muscle car. He was holding a ray gun confidently, bolding stepping towards the injured man on the ground. The top half of his face was covered by a yellow mask, which combined with his shockingly red hair, made her think of a clown. There was nothing funny though about the skillful way that he stalked forward.
Suddenly he cried out a name and ran to the man on the ground. Abbey watched closely as he dropped to the man's side and let the gun fall from his hand.
'What should I do?' she thought as the two men spoke. 'I don't know if I can take two men on, even if one of them is injured. However If I let them go then Korse will hurt Anton. Even if I do just stay quiet, the blonde one might tell the other one that I'm hiding here. He could come after me.' She watched as the red haired man pulled the bike off the other one. 'I need to act fast!'
Abbey pulled the detonator from her pocket and held the white ray gun firmly in her other hand.
'It's now or never.' she thought, watching the newcomer try to pull the injured man to his feet.
She pulled in a big breath and shouted "Drop your weapons!" in a tone too high pitched for her liking.
Abbey knew that it wasn't the most original thing to say, but it did get their attention.
The masked man lowered the other one to the ground and stared in her direction. In the gloom she couldn't see his eyes behind his mask, but she felt as though he was looking directly at her. No expression crossed his face. And he didn't put his gun down.
Desperation forced Abbey to act again.
"Right now; or I will shoot!" She forced her voice lower, adding layers of threat to her tone. She was calling on every once of her acting skills, trying not to sound like she was bluffing. She knew that she couldn't shoot the man. It wasn't a matter of why, it was a matter of how. In the darkness she couldn't see the points on the pistol to line it up right. She could end up shooting blindly, alerting them to her inexperience, and weakness was not a good thing to display.
The sneer that crossed the man's face sent shivers down her spine. She hated not being able to see his eyes.
However after a brief, frustrating moment he placed his ray gun on the ground and slid it towards her.
Satisfied, she stepped out from behind the concrete boulder and placed a boot foot over the yellow weapon, drawing it back towards her in the shadow. She kept her own weapon trained vaguely on the masked man, ranking him as the higher threat. She knew that they could see her now, or at least just vaguely. She kept at the edge of the shadows, but from the way that the red haired man focused on her, she knew that he was assessing her movements. In a response to this she tried to convey a cocky attitude in her body.
Gerard saw a confidence in the figure's stance, and, not wanting to back down easily, decided to catch them out with a question.
"Who are you?" the man's voice caught Abbey a little off guard.
"Shut up!" she growled at him. 'I can't let him think that he has the upper hand.' She thought. 'I need to be in complete control here. So much depends on this.'
She lifted her left hand, holding the detonator up so that he could see her thumb hovering over the discharge button.
Gerard stared at the black box, comprehension dawning on him. A cold sweat broke out across his brow.
"You will do exactly as I say." Abbey injected as much determination into her voice as she could. "Or I will blow this tunnel up."
Party kept his eyes trained on the dark figure. In the dim light he couldn't make out much, but he did know that their suicidal adversary was a woman. He couldn't be sure, but he thought he could see a dark shadow covering part of her face. 'Black haired?' he thought, trying to memorize as much of her as he could. He wasn't going to die here, and he was planning on getting his revenge once he got Spider Bait home.
"No you wont. All you BL/ind people are the same; all talk and no action." Gerard was booking on the hope that the woman was bluffing.
Abbey internally cringed at the man's words. She knew that if the man was desperate enough to test her theory, she might not have the guts to press the button.
"Do you want to test that theory?" she returned, hoping that she sounded self-assured. The reality was that she wasn't sure of anything right now. She didn't even know what to do now. She could try and shoot them, but then what? And if she missed and he attacked her, she knew that she's have no hope.
Gerard sighed at the convincingly confident attitude. "No, I believe you."
'Now what?' Both Gerard and Abbey thought at the same time.
Spider Bait suddenly rolled over and fired his ray gun at the teenage girl.
Abbey shrieked, caught off guard. She leapt away from the light and blasted off three shots of her own in his direction. Two missed, but one landed on his leg.
As the injured man screamed in pain Abbey cursed herself for her stupidity. 'I can't believe I forgot that he had a gun as well! He nearly shot me, twice now, for fuck's sake!' She mentally kicked herself and ducked behind the concrete boulder again.
Gerard hadn't taken his eyes off the woman as Bob shot at her. He didn't even realize that his friend had a gun on him, so when he did shoot it was completely unexpected. However, Party didn't miss a beat and ducked instinctively behind the motor bike with Bob to avoid her retaliation fire. As she squeezed off three shots her face was illuminated by the laser beams' glows. Two sparkling yellow and green eyes stared wildly into his own, accompanied by a young face, distorted with shock and fear. His heart missed a beat at the notion that Korse was sending some kid to do his dirty work. Then again, that kid seemed pretty bent on killing them.
Party rolled forwards as the girl ducked behind a protective lump of rock and grabbed his ray gun where it had been left. He flicked up the setting and sent a few shots off towards the boulder. Fragments of heated rock were chipped off, but it seemed as though it would be too big to destroy with their smaller beams.
Caught in what seemed a stale-mate, Bob and Gerard paused their fire, not sure what action to take next. They both crouched behind the motor bike, using it as a clumsy shield.
After a few moments of silence a quiet giggle began to fill the air. It grew louder, sending nervous chills down both zonerunners spines.
Behind the rock pile Abbey was laughing. Contradictory to her giggles, a few tears rolled down her cheeks. She couldn't help but crack-up. In her head the voice had returned and was sending her over the edge with nervous fears. In her shaking hand was the detonator. The voice kept whispering at her to press the button.
"So easy." the voice cooed at her. "Just press it. It isn't that hard."
She didn't know it, but her psychotic laughing was setting her up for a reputation, one that would label her as the most sadistic rebel-hunter that BL/ind had ever let loose on the zones.
"You forget!" she cried out "I'm holding both your lives under my thumb!" She leapt out from behind the boulder and fired towards the two men.
Party Poison tried to drag Spider Bait away from the hysterical girl's range of fire, but Bob pulled himself free of his grasp and fired back.
"Go!" he shouted at Gerard.
"I'm not leaving you here!" Party grabbed at his friend, but received a stinging laser beam from the girl across his cheek. It had only singed the skin, but was enough to send cold fear through his body.
"Gee, look at me!" Bob demanded and grabbed his crew leaders hand. Party stared at Spider Bait, eyes tearing up behind the mask. He could see the extent of the drummer's wounds, but he couldn't accept the reality of the situation. "I'm not going to make it."
Gerard shook his head, and fired two shots at the advancing girl. "Don't talk like that!"
"Save yourself!" Bob growled and pushed his friend away. "I'll hold her back!"
As those famous last words left his lips, a white-hot beam blasted through the thin cover of the motorbike and hit Spider Bait right over his heart. He didn't even have time to register the effects of the wound before his heart beat it's last. Life left Bob Bryar before Gerard could understand what had happened.
"No!" the word erupted from Party's throat with a series of gut-wrenching sobs. "Bob!" He hugged his friend to his chest, feeling his shirt go damp with the bodies lifeless blood.
Abbey paused in her fire. Her thoughts were still crazed with voices telling her to finish them off, however somewhere something registered the sound of human anguish. She gasped at the traumatic cries of the masked man, agonizing over what she knew she had done.
The bewildered girl took a step back, trying to comprehend fully the pain she had inflicted upon the other man. In all her life Abbey had never experienced human suffering on this level, and it terrified her. Shoving the voices in her head to one side she receded once more into the shadow of the tunnel. Instead of hiding behind the concrete boulder she walked along the side of the wall, trying to get away from the strangled sound of grieving.
She walked for ten minutes until her head began to clear. She wiped the wetness from her face and then realized that she was still holding the detonator in her hand. Abbey stared at the button, desolation filling her thoughts.
"Anton, I love you." she whispered and activated the bombs.
Harley drove them out of the Traverse. When her and Rabid had heard the gunfire stop, replaced over by Gerard's cries they had both made the executive decision to leave the safety of the car and see what had happened. What they found had both shocked, and disturbed the normally composed pair. Roulette and Diamond had seen many depressing things in their time as zonerunners, but later on they'd agree that this one took the cake. The fact that Party was so close to bringing his friend back, only to have him shot down on the home stretch was almost too much to bear.
It had taken both her and Roulette to drag Party Poison away from the body of his friend. He had been hysterical, fighting with them the entire way back to the Trans Am. He had screamed out to the darkness, to the girl responsible, that he would have his revenge.
"This isn't over!" He howled in a deranged, unhinged way. "You'd better watch your step because next time we cross paths it'll be your blood spilled across the floor!"
There was no answer from the cool depths.
Once they started driving he seemed to retreat inside himself. Roulette held him close, rocking him and murmuring something in his ear. Harley kept glancing in the rear vision mirror, keeping one eye on the unstable man incase he lost it again.
When they had been driving for five minutes she looked in the back once more and was captivated by what she saw. Through the back window a great light was blossoming. It took her a second before she cried out to the others to block their ears.
The explosion of the Traverse sent a great shock-wave of noise in both directions. In the old section of Battery City the creaking buildings were silenced by the roar. At the other end in the zones, the rebels living nearby thought that BL/ind had launched a nuclear on the desert.
In the tunnel though, it was a different story. Sure the bang was loud, but it was the vibrations that got to the three rebels. The Trans Am was pushed along the road by the blast and Harley frantically tried to righten the vehicle. They missed slamming into the wall of the tunnel by only a few meters.
"Shit." Harlequin gasped. "That was way too close for comfort."
Rabid mumbled something similar, eyes wide with fear. Gerard didn't even seem to notice. His eyes were closed, tears streaming down his face unchecked.
"We'd better keep going. If the structure of the tunnel's been fractured it could completely collapse. We were lucky not to be in the section that was." Roulette's voice seemed small in comparison to the explosion.
Diamond nodded and revived the stalled engine.
A few tense hours later when they reached the end of the Traverse Party spoke for the first time.
"Can we stop for a bit?" his voice was barely above a whisper.
"Sure. Pull over will you Harley?" Roulette stroked his head, trying to comfort him.
Diamond nodded and found a secluded spot behind a bunch of acacia bushes to stash the car.
Gerard stepped out of the car and immediately began to climb the nearest hill. Harley and Rabid watched him go, both deciding to let him be. He needed to mourn the loss of his friend alone.
When he reached the top he sat heavily on a rock and gazed out over the desert. The final tendrils of night were being washed away by the glow of morning on the horizon. The vast expanses of sand, rock and bush seemed to stretch away from him, limitless. His vision wavered through the tears in his eyes. They spilled down his face as the sun began to fully emerge from it's lair, bathing him in light.
"I tried." He spoke to the sky. "I'm so sorry Bob that it wasn't enough. I just wish that it was me who died today."
Abbey fell flat on her face at the impact of the blast. Heat scorched her back and she cried out as it burnt through the hoodie to her skin. The noise made her eardrums vibrate dangerously and left her head ringing for hours after the explosion.
She lay on the ground in the dark for half an hour, quietly crying. She wished that she had hadn't walked so far. Being crushed by the collapsing tunnel would have been merciful compared to the hatred she was feeling for herself. The detonator was still clutched in her hand, but she couldn't find it in herself to throw it away.
Red faced, clothes smoking and back raw with burns she dragged herself to her feet, amazed that she was still alive. She looked around her and was amazed that she could actually see. She turned around and could see that about 300 feet away the roof had caved in. Sand spilled down into the cavern from above.
"The desert." she whispered.
Abbey walked back to the piles of rubbled and began to climb up them. She wobbled on the loose chunks of rock, earth, steel and concrete. When she reached the top of the heap she was able to look above her and see the sky. It was hours before dawn at that point in time, and the stars shone down on her like little beacons of hope. A faint wind whistled over the lip of the gaping hole and ruffled Abbey's hair. It escaped the confines of the black hood and twirled upwards.
'I want to be out there.' she thought. 'I want to be in that wild and dangerous place. I want to be in the zones.'
As soon as she thought it, she crushed her hopes. Korse was back in the city, waiting for her. Besides, there was no way that she could get out. The roof of the tunnel was still three or four meters above her, and the actual surface was quite a climb on top of that.
Abbey sighed heavily and made her way down the small mountain of rubble.
Back at the bottom she was once again enveloped in darkness. Taking a deep breath for courage she pressed the button on the side of the radio and called Korse. She had a plan.
Korse stared at the radio, which was buzzing at him to pick up. Before when he had tried to contact the girl she hadn't picked up. He had assumed that she had been killed by the rebels. And yet a few minutes later he had received confirmation that the tunnel had been blown, which only Abbey could have done. It should have killed her.
And yet she was calling him.
The Scarecrow picked up his mic and hit the answer switch.
"This is Korse."
There was a crackle of static before a weary voice responded. "It's Abbey."
His heart lurched. She was still alive. "What is your position girl?"
"I'm in the tunnel, about thirty feet from the collapsed section." was the response.
"Were you successful in your mission?" his heart rate increased, hoping for good news.
"It depends on what you call successful." she sounded dead pan, almost as though she didn't care what he thought. This angered him.
"Listen here, don't toy with me. Did you or did you not exterminate Party Poison!?" He shouted into the mic.
On the other end Abbey joined the dots, realizing that Party must be the name for the red haired man. She decided to do something risky. "No, you listen to me Korse. I want someone to come down here and pick me up. I will tell you everything when I get back to HQ and after I've been able to see Renegade and make sure he's alright. If you've let your dracs place one single bruise on him, I cant tell you that you wont get anything from me. And that is not a bluff."
Abbey hung up on the Scarecrow and began the short wait for her escort.
Korse stared at the receiver, furious at her insubordination. He waved at a drac standing nearby. "Get the girl in the tunnel. Bring her straight back here and show her to Renegade's cell. She is not allowed to speak with him, only see that he is still alive. After that you are to bring her to me. Is that clear!?"
"Yes sir." The drac scuttled away, leaving Korse to pace him room in furious silence.
Abbey protested at not being allowed to speak to Anton. In a fit of rage she beat her fists against the glass cell to get his attention.
Hugh looked up to see his love pounding the wall. He gasped at the burn marks on her body and her disheveled appearance. He jumped up from where he was sitting on the floor and pressed himself against the glass pane, hands placed over hers. He leant his forehead against the cool surface and looked down into her eyes, distraught by the trauma and hatred he saw in their glaucous depths.
"I love you." he spoke, knowing that she couldn't hear him.
"I love you too." she spoke, knowing what he said without confirmation.
The drac tugged on her arm and pulled her away from the glass. She struggled against them, trying to keep Anton's tall figure in her sights.
"I'm going to save you!" she screamed. "We will be together again; I have a plan. They can't take away our freedom forever!"
Hugh watched her shouting something. Another drac joined the first one in their plight to take her away. Using his fingers he made a heart shape and blew her a kiss. The last thing he saw of her before she disappeared around the corner was her face as she burst into tears.
Korse heard a knock on his door.
"Come in!" he called.
Abbey was shoved in along with one drac and the door was shut firmly behind them. Her face was wet, but she looked composed and determined. The Scarecrow studied her bedraggled appearance. There were some serious looking burns across her shoulders and a few grazes on her knees and arms.
"So," he said, gesturing at her to sit in the chair on the other side of the table. "I am going to presume that you've seen your precious Renegade and know that he is alive and well."
"That depends on what you classify as being well." her voice was calm, and had a tone of authority. Korse knew that she knew how much her knowledge was worth.
He shrugged. "Well then, how do you describe health, Abbey?"
She sniffed. "Health and well being are two separate things. If Renegade was well, he'd be free."
"You know I cannot do that."
She narrowed her eyes. "I want someone to take him food and water. And I mean decent food, not that crap jail baits get given."
Korse chewed his cigar, tossing up her demand.
"Now!" she snapped.
He raised an eyebrow at her audacity, but nodded at the drac in the corner who left to do her bidding.
"I am also not going to tell you what happened in that tunnel until you promise not to dispose of me and my boyfriend once you have what you want." She watched his reaction carefully.
"Abbey dear, what makes you think that I'd do-"
"You thought I would be crushed by that explosion." she hissed. "I know now that you expected me to die on your mission, and afterwards you would have been able to get rid of Renegade, who would have been of no further value to you."
Korse couldn't help the small smile that twitched his lips. She was learning fast.
"Yes, I suppose that you got me on that one. So what makes you think that my promises should mean anything to you?"
It was Abbey's turn to smile. She grinned at him wickedly.
Somewhere in between being capture by Korse and sitting in that room, debating her future, Abbey Palini learnt the art of bluffing. She also established that in this political world, manners got you no where. In some respect then, she had learnt that to play the game you have to give threat to get respect.
"Korse, I don't know much about how this world works."
He smirked. "No, you don't. That much was evident when you asked me how a gun works."
Her smile didn't waver like he expected it to.
"Yet, even with my lack of understanding, what I have acknowledged is the fact that you cannot seem to catch a certain group of people." She played one of her unstable cards. "Namely one Party Poison?"
The hatred that flashed across his face confirmed her thoughts. Korse was desperate to get rid of the masked man with the red hair.
"I have also noticed that your dracs don't seem exactly competent at their job."
A vein pulsed on the Scarecrow's forehead. "My draculoids are perfectly fine. We've done a pretty good job and taking over America so far, evidently."
She sniggered. "And yet you're still plagued by these zonerunners after how many years?"
"What's your point?" He growled.
She stopped smiling for a moment and became serious. "In case it isn't apparent to you yet, I was not able to kill off Party Poison tonight. Him and the two women escaped, which, before you get angry at me, was not my fault. I do recall you telling me that there was only one vehicle."
Korse wanted to beat some respect into the girl, but he held his temper in check. It seemed like the kid was going somewhere good with this little speech. And she was right, her instruction had been given under the assumption that there was only a car.
"I did, however, manage to kill the other man." He couldn't be sure, but Korse thought he saw a pang of sadness on the girl's face. "I was caught in rather a nasty fight against the two men, and yet with no previous experience I managed to take one out. This is in comparison to your dracs who have had years of training under their belts, and yet fail you at every turn."
Korse felt a small amount of satisfaction at the knowledge that one of the Killjoys had been successfully exterminated. He, however, did not find it amusing that his draculoids were being so casually discredited.
"And I think that the reason why this is so, is because of the drug that you use to brain wash them."
Abbey paused to let that sink in.
"Oh really? And how to you prove that theory, might I ask?"
"Well, to put it simple your drugs take away people's ability to use their initiative. From what I can tell, in fighting situations you need that creative ability to decide for yourself how to overcome your enemy. The reason why your dracs keep getting killed, is because they don't have enough brain power left to think on their feet."
Korse knew that the girl had got him where she wanted him. She was right. Her theory made complete sense, it summed up why the loose cannon rebel gangs had been able to out-wit and out-fight his army of trained assassins. "So what do you think I should do?" he didn't care that he was admitting that he was wrong. He was on the verge of doing something great for the corporation, he could feel it.
"Send me into the desert instead." Abbey knew the weight of that declaration. It would mean that she would be fighting against what she believed in. However if she was forever working for Korse, he would not be able to hurt Anton.
"Send you after the Killjoys?" he felt a mixture of amusement, respect and hope at her statement. The amusement was mainly because of the blank look he got at the name of the rebel gang. Of course she wouldn't know who The Fabulous Killjoys were.
"I don't know who you mean, but yes. Train me and send me in as one of yours. I can learn the skills of your dracs, but the cunning of a zonerunner. They wont stand a chance." She knew that she was treading thin ice. This would be the most dangerous thing she had ever done. Either she would succeed and save Renegade, or she would fail and die. Somehow though, dying in the desert didn't seem like such a bad thing.
Korse sucked in a lungful of cancerous smoke and puffed it out again, grinning. "Okay Abbey, you're on. And I assume that in return for your services you want the whelp to live?"
"Yes." she said quickly. "No one is to touch him. He is to be kept comfortable and entertained. And he is never," she stared into his eyes seriously, "never ever, to be forced to take your drugs."
The Scarecrow frowned at the condition. It would be hard to pass through The Head, they wouldn't like it. But once he got this kid going, he knew that she'd be unstoppable. They were going to win this war, and it would be because of him, not the fools who sat in offices and made political statements.
"Alright, he can keep his brain. However if he causes any trouble, any at all, he will be reprimanded. That I cannot prevent."
Abbey nodded and let out a sigh of relief. "So, when do I start?"
Korse tapped his cigar on the edge of a an ashtray, knocking the spent tobacco off the tip. "Well first of all, we need to get you settled in at Home Base."
"That's the residence of our top dracs in Battery. I live there, along with a few of my personal guards. It used to be the home of the Scarecrows."
Abbey raised an eyebrow at him. "Before....?"
"Before they were ghosted. There used to be eight of us. The last one, Veracity, was my close friend." He didn't see the harm in telling the girl this. She would hear it from someone sooner or later.
"It was Party Poison who killed him, wasn't it?" she murmured.
Korse scowled. He wasn't used to people being able to join the dots so quickly. Perhaps her theory about the drugs dulling people's thought patterns was a stronger point that he had initially thought. It would certainly explain why some dracs had to be retired early due to cretinous behavior.
"Yes, he was murdered by the Killjoy leader. It happened only a few months ago. The Scarecrow before him, known as Black Kite, was our leader. He was taken out by one of the women in that car who escaped today."
Abbey contemplated this. She almost felt pity for Korse, it would be hard seeing all your colleagues die, one by one. "But what happens if you die?"
The bald man gave a half-smile. "That's where you come in."
The teenager gaped at him for a moment, trying to find some other meaning, other than the obvious one.
Korse stood up and walked over to a closet embedded in the wall. He opened it and flicked through the various outfits within. He found one and tossed it to Abbey, along with what appeared to be a long, black haired wig and some boots. She caught the items and was shooed into the bathroom adjoining the Scarecrow's office.
"See if this fits." He said and left her to it.
Abbey gently peeled the hoodie from her skin, wincing at the pain of her blistered skin. She stared at the white jumpsuit Korse had given her for a moment before stepping into it. The fabric felt cool against her skin and clung to her as she zipped it from the belly up. It drew shut all the way up to beneath her jaw.
She stared at herself in the mirror. It hugged her body, though not in an especially revealing way. It had obviously been fitted to someone with a bit more muscle than her, as it felt a bit tight around the hips and chest, but bagged slightly around her biceps. It was cut off like shorts at the top of her legs, but covered all of her arms. There were even two little zips on each cuff that could be tightened. The outfit was completely white, save a smiling BLi logo on the left breast and the shiny, gold zipper. There were also two black loops of fabric that fell from her hips and crisscrossed behind her. The material was silky smooth, but there was strength in it. She pondered the use of such a thing, decoration or function?
The boots were very long, almost coming up to meet the bottom of her suit. The heels on the bottom were high, but not so much that she had difficulty walking. She noticed that each edge had been cut to a very sharp point, almost like a blade.
"Huh, sexy." she grumbled. Abbey didn't like the fact that her boots were so high, but she then realized that the insides of them were slightly padded. "Why is that?" she pondered.
The last thing was the wig. It took her a second to bundle her thick, pale yellow curls up underneath the cap, but once it was on, it sat snug. The effect was dramatic. Apart from her eyes, there was nothing that Abbey could use to link herself back to the girl who had jumped out of her window only a night or so ago. The very straight, black hair was long, but already pulled back into a pony tail by a red band. It swung down her back in one shiny, long river. Abbey was surprised at how natural it felt. She didn't even feel like she was wearing a disguise. Even the wig sat comfortably.
She opened the door and stepped out into Korse's office.
He looked up at her and felt a small pang. This had been the outfit that one of the Scarecrows had used, minus the wig. She had been the second one killed, almost seven years ago now.
"Turn around." her ordered and Abbey did as he asked. The suit worked for her, he couldn't make any link between her and the girl that they had found with Renegade. He needed that girl to disappear. 'No one can recognize her,' he thought, 'or else we'll have a public relations crisis on our hands.'
"What's with these?" Abbey shook the black fabric loops.
He smiled. "They've been designed to cover you if you're ever caught in a radioactive storm. You'd be amazed at how well they work. And the heels on those boots have been designed to take the place of a knife. It become difficult carrying a lot of weaponry, so we design to outfits to incorporate as much of it as we can."
"So then why do I have to wear such long boots?" she whined, upset at the effect it had.
He shrugged. "Change boots if you want to, but they've been made so that your legs are protected by the drac bikes. The fabric of your suit wont cushion you if you fall, and unlike the leather boots it will chafe."
Abbey suddenly seems thankful for the thigh-length boots.
"And the wig?"
Korse didn't look up from the form he was filling in. "You are not longer to answer to Abbey Palini. That girl is dead."
"B-but what about my parents? Don't I get to see them again?"
"No." the reply tightened the girl's throat. "You're family will be informed of your tragic demise in a car crash caused by the notorious rebel, Renegade. BL/ind refuses to allow their employees to live two lives. Either you're my apprentice, or you're a public citizen. There's no in between."
Abbey nodded, unable to speak.
"Go get some sleep." He waved at her vaguely. "It's nearly dawn, but you can have today to get some rest and settle in. Tomorrow you will begin your training." He pressed a button on his desk, calling his main messenger. "Stuart will show you to your new home. If you need anything, talk to him about it."
She nodded again and went to the door. It opened for her, but before she stepped out of his office, Korse had one more thing to say to her.
"From now on you're name is Hypertonic. Got that?"
"Hypertonic... Okay." she murmured, rolling the unfamiliar name around in her head.
Korse looked up at her and gave a blank smile. "We'll nickname you Toxin for short."
Abbey, now Toxin shut the door behind her and took in a deep, shuddering breath. So much had happened, and so much was still to happen. She couldn't seem to get her head around the sudden turn her life had taken.
A drac was waiting for her outside. He motioned for her to follow him. "My n-name is Stuart, I'm Korse's main errand d-drac."
Abbey tottered after him, getting used to the heeled boots. "Nice to meet you Stuart." she said absently. "My name is Abbey.... I mean my name is Hypertonic."
"Hypertonic huh?" he seemed amused. "Got a shorter one?"
"Toxin." she replied.
He stopped in front of the entrance doors and held one open for her to pass through. She thanked him.
"Well Toxin," he said and unlocked a sleek looking car parked out front. She slipped into the passenger seat beside him. "Let's hope you survive longer than Korse's last apprentice."
Abbey wasn't sure if he was teasing her, or being serious.