The three remaining killjoys were forced into the chairs and restrained.
Ghoul cried out. Jet Star paled. Kobra Kid gripped the arms of his chair so tightly that his knuckles went white.
On the screen was a room full of ominous-looking machines. And in the middle, strapped down to a metal gurney and hooked up to at least three of the machines, was Party Poison.
As they looked on in horror, Korse asked a question they couldn't hear. They did, however, hear Poison's response of "Fuck you, Korse."
Korse gave a sick sort of smile and twisted a few knobs, and Party Poison gave a scream of agony.
Kobra Kid managed to keep his face relatively expressionless. Jet Star flinched. And they both looked nervously sideways at Ghoul. He had gone chalk-white and, they both noticed with alarm, his chin was trembling dangerously. They both silently willed him to keep it together.
No such luck. The images on the screen didn't get any better, and neither did Ghoul's reaction to them.
It went on for ages. None of them knew exactly how long, but to each of them it seemed like forever. Poison's screams continuously got louder and longer, and they also got more frequent, and his back was arching off the gurney with the force of whatever Korse was doing to him. Kobra sat there, stony-faced and with jaw set. Jet shuddered and flinched. But Ghoul... Ghoul fought against the restraints, he screamed Poison's name; he begged for them to stop it, stop hurting him, STOP HURTING HIM, STOP HURTING POISON! Of course, they didn't listen. A few of them laughed at first, but they eventually got annoyed. Told him to be quiet, as if he could. Finally, one of the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W/s lost its patience.
"Shut him up!" it snapped at one of its comrades.
One of the Dracs rushed from the room.
Kobra sat there stiffly, wondering what sort of horrifying device they were going to use to make Ghoul be quiet.
The Drac returned, produced a roll of duct tape, and taped Ghoul's mouth shut.
That works too, Kobra thought vaguely.
Poison screamed again, a long scream that went on and on and right through Kobra's heart. Ghoul, now silenced, sat struggling in his chair, chest heaving and tears running down his face.
Grace had gotten lucky. She'd only been running for maybe fifteen minutes when she ran into a Killjoy patrol, who recognized her immediately as the Girl. When she told them about the clap, they conferred for a minute before telling her to hop on the back of one their bikes. The Killjoy whose bike she was on took her back to the Zone 2 base, while the others went into Zone 3 to see if they could help Party poison's team. They returned to the base not an hour after Grace and her companion arrived, reporting that they'd found the Trans-Am, abandoned, doors open and the keys still in the ignition.
And then one of them reached into the bag hanging of his shoulder and slowly pulled out four guns; the red one was still in its holster.
Show Pony arrived sooner than Jet Star had anticipated. In fact, he arrived less than a minute later, just in time to envelop a sobbing Grace in his arms. The comfort of seeing a familiar face made her cry just a little bit harder, although the added tears were of relief.
"What the fuck happened?" Pony demanded over Grace's head. ("Language!" she reprimanded him through her tears.)
Relinquishing his hold on her, he skated over to the table. His eyes went wide when he saw the guns; he picked up Fun Ghoul's with shaking hands.
"What happened?" he asked again, sounding worried.
"There was a clap," said one of the Killjoys in a low voice. "We think they took them alive..."
"Kobra got hurt," Grace sobbed, clutching at the hem of pony's shirt. "They shot him."
Pony was quiet as he bent down to Grace's level and hugged her tightly. He let her cry into his shoulder for a minute before asking gently, "What about you, little motorbaby?"
"I ran," she sniffled. "Jet told me to run."
"We were out on patrol," one of the Killjoys said. "We saw her and picked her up, but we were too late to help with the clap."
Pony exhaled slowly. "Alright," he said wearily. "Alright. Thank you for picking her up. Gracie..." He turned his attention back to the little girl clutching at him. "I'm going to take you with me, ok? We're going to go see the Doc."
"And then we'll go save them, right?" Grace asked, looking up at him. "We'll go get them?"
"Of course," said Pony reassuringly. "We just need to go talk to D first."
"Hey, Doc!" Pony called out, pushing aside the graffitied plywood covering the entrance to the diner. "We got a situation!"
"Run in your tights?" Dr. Death-Defying asked drily, wheeling himself into the front room. "Or some other dire emergency?"
Pony stared at him grimly. "I'm serious. We got a situation."
"Oh, really," said D, raising his eyebrows.
Pony raised his eyebrows right back and called out "Grace!"
She came wandering in from outside where she'd been waiting, her eyes still red-rimmed. D stared at her, confusion apparent on his face.
"Why do you have Girl?" he asked Pony.
In response, Pony dumped his bag out on the nearest table.
D looked at the four guns, then up at Pony. "Ghosted?"
Pony shook his head sombrely. "Taken alive."
D nodded slowly. "So, they're gone. Good as ghosted."
He turned and began to wheel himself into the back room, where the transmitting equipment was set up. Pony stared after him; Grace stared up at Pony in bewilderment.
"Wait, what do you mean?" Pony called after D. "We're going to go get them, right?"
D was silent, merely flicking a few switches and sifting through the pile of records on the desk.
"Right?" Pony repeated. "We're going to go save them, aren't we?"
It took D a minute to reply, but when he did, pony was sure he must have heard him wrong. Because instead of saying "Of course" like Pony was expecting him to say, he simply said "No."