“Whoa, dude!” I heard as the door creaked open and a group of four people entered the building.
Sharky Ringer smiled cheerily to me and quickly moved in my direction. I mustered a smile and waved to all of them. “This car looks totally awesome, man!” she said sitting next to me.
Jet Star and Electric Razor disappeared in the kitchen to probably grab something to drink or maybe do something else. Kobra sat silently on the other side of the room. I knew right away tha he sensed that something was wrong.
“Thanks, I guess. It was all Poison’s design, anyway” I told her.
I wasn’t lying, but I did majority of the work since he left me in the middle of the work and I haven’t seen him since then.
“Oh, a humble one. Love those types” she said winking to Kobra. “Dude, I really wasn’t thinking that you’d use those boxes in such way. A couple of paint cans and duck tape, who’d think, really. Maybe you could do something to our truck?”
“Put a glitter on it!” said Razor from the other room.
“I don’t think it’s such a good idea” I told her seriously. “And I haven’t seen any glitter. All
I can offer it’s pink and purple paint.”
“Naah, we’re Desert Queens. It’s glitter or nothing” Sharky informed me beaming and I couldn’t help, but to smile back.
“Hey, what have you seen on the desert?” I asked curiously after a while.
“Ugh, you know, every day stuff. Sand, cacti, brainless dracs roaming… Though there was more of them than usual. Anyway, your friend over there” she said pointing at Kobra “kicked some asses today.”
“Oh, that’s because he took glasses this time” I said laughing.
“Asshole” he murmured and me and Sharky giggled softly. “Maybe if I took them the time we went for the reactor, we wouldn’t have to leave you there.”
“Dude, I told you. I’m all good and safe now. It wasn’t your fault, anyway” I reassured him.
“Oh, you know I haven’t heard that story yet! You gotta tell me!”
So I did, and soon after Jet Star with razor joined us. They sat on the floor below the window. I told them how awesome Kobra was with all the technological stuff and how we awesomely disarmed guards by the entrance and how everything went smoothly until the exit and how I was caught. Jet Star was sometimes interrupting me to add his point of the story. Kobra was mainly silent, just fidgeting with his watch.
“And what questions did Korse ask you?”
“Nothing too surprising, just where keys go, what do we do with them, where is our base, stuff like that.”
“Huh, and by that time the key was already with us” said Razor. “Is here really as repulsive as people say?”
“He’s bald, he twitches a lot and he loses his temper easily. I think he could use some of his pills on himself” I told them, mustering a smile.
“Is that true he gave you one?”
“… yeah. Not the full dose, though. I’m fine now” I assured them. “And just after that guys found me and took me here.”
“I don’t get it, though. How did they know where were you?”
So I told them about my accidental discovery of useful options of our watches. Kobra explained what he found in them and explained how he thought they worked. Together we wondered where we got them from.
“That’s an interesting thing with those watches, can I see one?” asked Razor when I finished talking. I immediately nodded and passed her mine. “I’ll go to the kitchen, there is better light, okay?”
“Okay, so let Razor play with her new toy and I’ll try to find D. to talk to him for a while” added Sharky.
We nodded agreeing and they left us alone in the dim room. Only then I felt the awkward tension between me and Kobra.
“So, where is Poison?” Star asked casually, probably not knowing that this may cause a storm.
“He disappeared” I told them truthfully. “I have no idea where he went.”
“Again. And you allowed him do that, even though this desert is dangerous as hell, huh?”
“Well, like if you didn’t do the same thing last time” I retorted.
Kobra only raised his wrist where his watch was and shook his head. “I know where he was and I know where he is now. But still, you let him go somewhere without even checking on him. I don’t care if you could cause another world war by arguing with each other, you all need to make sure that the other one is doing okay” he told me. His voice was cold and steady and that was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.
Jet Star looked confused, not knowing what that all was about.
“Poison has an issue” I said, partly to explain the situation to him. “He says I should know what he is going about, but I don’t. Do you?” I asked directing my question again to Kobra.
He remained silent for a while before he spoke. “What did actually happen?”
“Well, we started painting the car, then he asked questions about the past and I tried to answer them the best I could. Somehow we ended up talking about our friendship. Between one thing and another I realized that he was hiding something from me, so I asked him about it. I admit, it wasn’t the smartest move, but I didn’t expect him to get mad. His point is that if I don’t know what his issue is then it’s not worth talking about it. Can you, please, make out something from this?”
Jet Star leaned back on his chair with his arms crossed on his chest, gazing at me, then Kobra ad back at me.
“This is such a crap thing we can’t remember shit” Kobra whined after a while. “Well, except for you, but obviously your memory is kinda selective.”
“I know that. But I remember majority of the important stuff. And he said… he said it’s not a memory, but a feeling.”
Kobra cocked his eyebrow and looked at me sternly. “Listen, if this what he told you, then surely it’s a thing between you two and you have to realize that on your own. And then decide what to do with that. Just… Just be honest, but gentle with my brother” he told me.
“I’m blind as a fucking bat, then” I whined, throwing arms in the air. “I don’t notice something important and I have no fucking idea what you are talking about” I told him angrily.
“You do, you just put them in the wrong category.”
I didn’t really participate in the rest of the evening, because my thoughts circled around my conversation with Kobra. I was trying hard to figure out what I was missing, but nothing came to my mind. I had no idea what could be between me and Poison that he was longing for me to realize, but too afraid to tell me.
About two hours later Poison came back, with slight sunburn on his face. He gave me an apologetic look and I nodded, smiling weakly to him, but we didn’t speak.
Soon after girls decided it got quite late and it was time to go if they wanted to reach their base before twilight.
We went to sleep in bitter moods.
The morning didn’t make us feel any better. Just after tiny breakfast (we had to rearrange our portions due to latest problems with transport) D. directed a gathering.
“The number of dracs taking patrols on the desert was doubled” he started slowly. “Sharky’s observations only confirmed my suspicions. True, lot’s of them seem to be not well trained, but still they pose danger to us and they cannot be neglected in any way, do you understand me?”
“It means no wandering around by yourselves” Pony added, looking sternly at Poison. “True, it’s relatively safe place, but you cannot be cautious enough. We lost too many people already. We were close to lose even more.”
I was about to roll my eyes, but it was hard to forget how close to death I was.
Death Defying nodded. “Increased number of patrols can mean two things. Korse finally realized that our forces cannot be scorned, because he actually lost half of his rectors. That may be the reason to recruit more draculoids, but on the other hand it weakens the power he has over them. Either way, it means that Battery City is not in a perfect condition. Other option is that he thinks that killing part of the delivery section will prevent us from fighting for what we believe in. It will not” he said sternly. “We just have to work harder. Our contacts in Battery City haven’t failed yet and even if they will, we’re about to get independent in that area.”
It was true, some time ago Pony told us about the project of building green houses underground, empowered by solar panels.
“Anyway, we were idle for far too long, it’s time to punch them in the face again” he said.
The sparkle of excitement and fear went through my spine.
“I agree, though we have to be better prepared this time” Poison said. “We need more time to feel confident with guns in our hands.”
“I was also thinking… Are Neon Vixen and Detonator Darling still in the business?” I asked, somewhat interrupting Poison.
D. nodded. “Yeah, though they are mainly doing maps and stuff like that. Why dou do you ask?”
“I was thinking, why not attack two reactors at the same time? I mean, if we have two groups who can do this, then why not? Surely it’s not something that BLI is expecting us to do, right?”
“Ghoul is right” Star said, supporting me. “Obviously Korse reorganizes BLI’s forces now, however we don’t really know what his plans are and we need to act as quick as possible, putting up as much force as we can.”
Death Defying fell silent for a moment, with a frown on his tired face. “I need to thin this over. It’s very dangerous, what you’re suggesting, Ghoul. It will take twice as much preparation. We cannot afford to lose any of you, since at the moment we have no one else who could do this. I’m not sure if the advantages of doing this are worth taking up the risk… Though I must admit, it seems very tempting” he said smiling. “You think in the right direction.”
And just after that Kobra said “That exactly why we should attack reactor number 8.”
Pony shot him a look. “No, listen! Ghoul told them our plans were to attack it, so now they are 100% sure we had changed our plans. From their point of view it would be the most reckless thing to do. And that’s exactly why we need to do this. They are not expecting it.”
“Okay, enough of this brainstorm” D. said and Kobra pulled out a face. “Now go, train your shooting or something.”
We packed our guns in the car and drove about a mile from our base, simply because Dr. D. was afraid that Kobra would set the building on fire again, but also because shooting might have caught Dracs’ attention and that was something we didn’t really needed at that point. We took Pony with us, because he was meant to look out for us when we were occupied, however he ended up sprawled on the hood, basking in the sun.
Jet Star spaced out some empty tin cans we collected from base, all of them in different distances, to make things a tad harder. We divided into two groups and started shooting. When it was Kobra’s and Star’s turn, I stood aside with Poison, deep in awkward silence.
I was determined to break it and say something, but I had no idea what. I just sighed to myself and he turned around and bit his lip.
“Poison, about yesterday…” I finally stammered.
“Ghoul, I’m sorry I yelled at you, I… I shouldn’t have” he said instantly, though he was rambling. “We don’t need to talk about this ever again.”
“No, listen. I know it’s something important and I’m sorry I can’t figure it out. What I can’t understand is why you don’t want to tell me what is that, but… I will embrace this at some point, hopefully sooner not later. I just don’t want it to be an issue between us, right now. We need to trust each other.”
“I know. I trust you with my entire being” he told me smiling. “It’s just kinda touchy topic, that’s all. I’m… not sure how you would react.”
“I’m lost, Poison. Would you give me any tips?” I asked hopefully.
“Uhm… It’s just… If you get this on your own, just feel it, then I’ll be over the moon with happiness. If not, then I’m gonna pretend like nothing ever happened. I value our friendship more than anything else, Ghoul.”
Our fighting style left a lot to be desired and it was interesting to watch, I assume. Poison was the quickest, he could shoot 20 cans in 12 seconds which was impressive. Jet Star had the best aim, by the end of the week he was missing only 1 can in each 50 and that was when he was shooting on time. Kobra had a lot of luck (though he used to say it was special technique), sometimes he managed to shoot 2 or 3 cans by one try. I was only slightly slower than Poison and my aim wasn’t all that bad, but I was making great dodges, straight from some fantasy movie which title couldn’t be recalled. It was annoying though, because guys decided it was lots of fun to throw things at me and soon it became a paper crumbs fight.
Somewhen around Saturday (actually had no idea what day of the week it was, since time itself was quite irrelevant to us, but I liked to numerate days, to catalogue memories better) Pony joined us for breakfast to pass some news.
“So, Death Defying has done some thinking, I visited Vixen and Detonator couple of days ago and the plan is to attack to reactors at the same time, as Ghoul suggested” he said.
“Fuck yeah” I mumbled, chewing on bread which was surely out of date.
“However, we cannot take the 8.”
“Well, not because your idea was stupid, Kobra, I personally think it was quite smart and all, however there are some technical problems. The thing is that there is much more information collected about reactors 7 and 9 and also we have quite good maps of their surroundings. Also, there is a chance Paranoia Rock&Roller would steal a plan of at least one of them, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up, because BLI put some serious effort into building a proper firewall for their system. We don’t know how good is it, though.”
“Do you have anyone else to recruit to steal the rest of the keys?” I asked after a moment.
I knew it wasn’t an easy question, but considering the latest news, it was worth to think of.
All we knew was that BLI was building new, stronger safety net. Not only technological, but also in their staff – it was shown in the number of dracs taking patrols over the desert. It was almost impossible to push your way through them and those who did, spent more time on fighting against them than observing. And it was plain pointless since Korse’s forces were easily renewable and our really weren’t.
“Everyone could go through training, but it’s harder the further you go and not everyone would be capable of doing it. So please, try not to die” he said with serious face. “Also what would be the point of this entire thing if everyone died.”
“Korse thinks, he’s not going to lose any other key, because he doubled the amount of dracs” said D. who suddenly appeared in the kitchen. We’re so engrossed in the conversation that we didn’t here his wheelchair. “It’s time to kill his joy.”
I was sitting on the porch of our base, checking out the batteries of our guns, when Poison stood above me, with his hands lying freely on his hips, casting shadow over me.
“Hey!” he said cheerily.
“Oh, hai” I replied, smiling. I put the last gun into the box with the rest. “What, the idea of defeating another gets you going, dude?” I asked.
His smile fell for a moment and his muscles tensed. But then he just shook his head and beamed again. “We should get a name” he said. “For our team. Look, Razor and Ringer are Desert Queens, those people from transportation were Candies and…”
“And you say that because you obviously thought of a genius name, huh?”
“Well… Yeah. It’s something D. said this morning” he confessed. “I thought maybe… Killjoys? Would it be okay?”
“Killjoys” I repeated to myself. It sounded really good in my ears. “Yeah. Why not? It’s good. Have you told guys, yet?”
I cocked my eyebrow. “I wanted to make sure it was okay before I told you.”
“It is okay, dude. I really like it” I smiled to him. “You never told me what do you think of 8 Legs, though.”
“Our car?” he asked knowingly and I just nodded. He walked couple of feet to were it was parked and walked around it, admiring properly our work. “You did great job, man. I like how it looks so rough” he told me. “But it’s like…”
“This car needs some action” I told him. He shot me a questioning and confused look and I couldn’t help but giggle. “We should take it on the desert, put some dust on it. Maybe drive through some cacti? So it wouldn’t look so nice.”
“You have the keys?”