an interesting offer..
I dreamt of the meadow and Danny only once, literally on the car ride back I think. It was just as before, the most serene peaceful place anybody could wish for and I longed to stay. I was in Danny’s arms this time and it really felt like it used to. My death wish was pretty much begging to be let loose but the one in the red jacket jolted me back to reality when he lifted me from the car. I remember he smelled nice though. Weird.
When I finally woke up properly it was dark. I sat up slowly, the pain in my side still there but duller, a little more bearable. I could also see and that came as a great relief. Cautiously I took a look around. Wherever I was seemed to be underground. I could see light under the doorway and when I looked over, Grace was asleep on the bed opposite. All around was piled equipment and supplies. A basement maybe ?
Gingerly I tried standing, my head still spun but nothing like before. I didn’t want to wake the kid and my first thought was to get the hell out before the Killjoys found out I was up. I walked silently toward the door and caught sight of my reflection. Shit. I looked bad, two black eyes stared back, nasty cut across my forehead and the remains of more bruises down one cheekbone. I was glad I couldn’t see the rest but I could still feel it. Korse had sure had fun and the urge to go find the bald fuck and dish some back was burning. I pushed my black hair forward to its usual position over my right eye and tried the door.
The corridor outside was piled up with more boxes, mostly tins of the dreaded Power Pup, batteries, electrical crap and bottled water. The lights were dim and I could hear a generator humming somewhere. There were a couple of doors to either side and at the far end a ladder bolted to the wall leading up to a hatch. I started toward it, noting that my left knee felt swollen, presumably from landing on the Drac back in the city.
“Going somewhere ?”
I turned, seeing a figure standing in one of the doorways further down. When he stepped into the light I could see it was Party Poison, a smug grin on his face. He folded his arms, leaning casually against the door and seemingly completely relaxed. I attempted a friendly smile.
“Yeah, thanks for the save and patching me up. I’ll be on my way now, don’t want to inconvenience you guys any further.”
There was a soft chuckle.
“We’re in the middle of Zone 6, there’s a raging sandstorm outside and you have four broken ribs, a concussion, possible skull fracture and more bruises than I’ve had my entire life. You really think you’re going anywhere ?”
“I’ll be fine, thanks.”
I could see he really wasn’t buying it and took a step back as he pushed himself off the wall and walked toward me. Close up I had to admit this was one nice looking guy, the build lean but all muscle. Somehow the red hair suited him although it was fairly easy to tell that normally he was dark haired, either way the hazel eyes radiated intelligence and I had a sinking feeling that no matter what I said, I wasn’t gonna be allowed to leave. He stopped in front of me and cos I’m basically pretty fucking short, he had to lift my chin to look into my eyes.
“You have no gun, no transport and even the clothes you’re wearing aren’t yours.”
I pulled back sharply, last thing I wanted was to have to rely on this lot. Glancing down I could see he was right about the gear, apart from my boots I didn’t recognise the black skinnies or the Iron Maiden t-shirt. Well at least the musical taste wasn’t too bad but it didn’t change the fact that I had seemed to have exchanged one prison for another. I painted a smirk on my face and tried to hide my temper.
“Like I said, thanks but I’m used to roughing it. I’ll take my chances.”
He stared at me for a second or two but didn’t move out of my path. There was nothing aggressive about his stance but we both knew who would win if it came to a fight. I wasn’t about to risk it so I met his gaze and waited. Finally he sighed.
“Stubborn. Ok at least come and have a coffee before you go then.”
I blinked as he pushed past, trying hard not to concentrate on that backside in those tight jeans as Party took a couple of steps up the ladder and pushed open the hatch. I hesitated for a minute wondering if they really were about to let me walk away before following him. Believe me climbing vertical ladders when you’ve taken a kicking is not easy and I was grateful when he reached down and offered me his hand before pulling me up into another room.
The place had clearly been a diner in the old days, back when things were sane. The lino still showed the pink squared pattern although it was curling at the edges while the red booths still looked reasonably comfortable. The Killjoy flag was up on one end of the room while the other held the counter and, praise be to any god, there was a coffee machine. I was surprised to see faint daylight through the cracks in the planks boarding up the windows and I could hear the wind howling. He hadn’t been lying about the sandstorm.
“Hey Kobra, we got coffee ?”
The tall blond one was leaning against the counter reading a magazine. He smirked at me and I could see the family resemblance, remembering what Grace had said. So this was Party’s brother Kobra Kid. I smirked back and took a seat opposite Party. That annoying stare hadn’t shifted of his face but he waited until his brother came back with the coffee.
“Kobra Kid meet Rainbow Revolver. At least she’s conscious this time.”
Crap. I tried to keep my face level as Kobra put the coffee cups down and took a seat next to Party. Now both of them were staring at me.
“Takes balls to steal from us and BLI. What’s the deal ?”
Party’s tone wasn’t angry, just curious. I took a few seconds to think how to put it.
“I’m not interested in your little war. Just trying to get by.”
“By playing both sides for fools. We’ve been watching you for a while, you dress like us and frequent Killjoy hangouts when it suits. Make people think you’re one of us.”
I took a swig of coffee, nodding in agreement.
“I do. If it makes you feel any better I have been known to go drac as well. You’d be surprised where you can get in Battery City dressed like that.”
“An equal opportunities thief then ?”
“If you like.”
I drained the last of the coffee. The door was behind me and they were both armed. I knew Party had been right about me not getting far under my own power but if I could get away from them and find a car or a bike I might have a chance. Main two problems with the plan were sitting in front of me. I stood up.
“Thanks again guys, later.”
Two guns appeared. One yellow, one red. Double crap.
I slumped back into the seat and fixed them both with a glare. Unfortunately they only seemed to find it amusing. Kobra went back to just staring at me while Party reached into his jacket and passed me a folded square of paper. I opened it, instantly knowing I was in deeper shit than I had previously thought. I looked back up at Party.
“See it from Korse’s view point. We rescued you, you saved Grace, shot several of his men and then Kobra here saved you. Congratulations, you just made most wanted Killjoy number 5.”
Triple bloody motherfucking crap.
I stared at the wanted poster. This was so not good. Going anywhere near anybody was going to be risky now in case they decided to cash in and I’d made enough enemies over the years. I tried to think of a good solution and couldn’t. This was now not just a hole to dig myself out of but a grave.
“You do have a way out.”
I looked over at Kobra, wondering how bad this was going to be. My scowl deepened.
“What you gonna offer to shoot me ?”
“They think you’re a Killjoy so be one. Join up with us, we could use someone of your talents and you could use some friends.”
I stood up again and made for the door. No way was a joining this madness. I’d be fine, just fine.
“You won’t last a day. Why not enjoy the perks ? We have equipment, transport, a network of people keeping us relatively safe and something to aim for.”
I turned back, I knew they were right but I needed to find an escape route. Maybe to play along would be the best idea at least in the short term.
“I don’t believe in your cause.”
“We can live with that although if you double cross us I’ll kill you.”
I nodded slowly and sat down.
“What’s in it for you ?”
Party leaned back in his seat, that annoyingly cocksure smile reappearing.
“You’re good at what you do. We need someone who can get in places we can’t and who can steal to order. You’re also good with a gun and you have an attitude problem.”
I couldn’t help but smile at the last one. Kobra noticed and I could see they thought they were winning.
“And where else are you gonna go ?“
He had a softer voice than Party and I took a guess that although taller he was the younger of the two.
On a very short list of options I decided to take this one.
“Ok you have a deal but this is short term. We help each other out but I can’t say I’ll stick around for ever.”
Party stuck his hand out and I shook it. Kobra did the same and then cracked a big smile.
“Did we mention the hot shower downstairs ?”
They both laughed at the look of disbelief that crossed my face. I’d just found the first advantage of being a Killjoy so far.