Chapter 1: Look Alive, Sunshine
Kevin taps his fingers against the steering wheel. Even under the guise of pitch black, it's still hot. His car is dirty, dust from Route Guano completely ruining the custom paint job. The radio is static. Doctor Death Defying had signed off a few days back to go underground.
He has a draculoid mask in his backseat, nicked off some asshole in Zone Four who wanted to ghost him. Instead, Kevin was the one who laser blasted him into dust. He didn't know the kid either. Probably some idiot who was too scared to fight back. Whatever, they didn't know it was him and they can't pin it back on him. Keeping your mask on tight is one of the main rules about living in California twenty-nineteen. If they find you... well, it's bound to go all Costa Rica if you decide to fight back.
There's no use risking turning the engine for air conditioning. Kevin opens the door and plants one steel-toed boot into the dust. He peels off his leather jacket, tossing it into the open seat. He runs his fingers through sweat-drenched locks and leans back against the headrest.
As much as he doesn't want to, Kevin knows he has to get sleep, even if it means with one eye open the entire night.
Chapter 2: Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na)
Kevin tugs on thick-soled black boots. He kicks a rock and it breaks into a pile of rubble. Good old steel-toed boots haven't let him down yet. He tucks the bottom of his jeans into the shoes then laces them tight. One never knows when you have to run. He tosses over a knee-high pair of green leather boots to Ben. "I think that's your size."
Ben slips them on, the legs of his jeans providing a comfortable barrier against the material of the boots and his bare skin. They fit well enough and eventually, all the walking and running they do will break them in. He ties them as tight as he can without cutting off circulation and stands, taking a few steps to test them out. Heavy, he thinks, bouncing on the tips of his toes, but not enough to slow me down too much.
"I'll get used to them."
"Good. They're steel-toed too," Kevin says, pulling on a new black t-shirt and fitting a matching leather jacket with rivets over it. "Makes for kicking a drac in the skull much easier."
"If they're already dead..."
"Don't want zombies, X-File."
"There's no such thing."
"You and me don't know what Better Living's up to. They make draculoids. Next step is reanimation. You have to be prepared for this shit."
Ben shrugs, donning his own black shirt. He zips up the faded and worn green leather jacket Kevin had found him in. He gets passed a green-striped mask and fingerless gloves. The taller man pulls on the rest of his protective gear and waits for Ben to do the same.
"Check," Kevin says and Ben finished snapping his gloves into place.
"On my person."
"Ready to hunt?"
"More than ever."
Ben pulls down his mask. His lips thin into a line. He checks his belt and makes sure the holster is securely attached before slipping his laser gun inside.
"Let's go. We got dracs to take down."
Chapter 3: Bulletproof Heart
Kevin avoids Zone Five for weeks after the gunfight in which he saved X-File. He drives through the night towards the Neon District. The warehouse there is more fortified, but it's nothing they can't handle.
"You sure about this?"
"Oh yeah. Zone Five would have been a piece of cake compared to this."
"And what is this?"
"More like a slab of ribs, slow-cooked over twelve hours in a smoker. Tedious, but well worth the wait."
The lights on the district belie it's true nature. Kevin thinks it reminds him of the former Las Vegas strip. Bright lights merely a pawn to invite the masses and trap them there under false pretenses. He drives straight up to the gate.
"What are you doing?!"
"They expect me to sneak in. What better way of fucking them around than going right through the front door?"
This is why Ben is not the strategist in this operation, but he grabs a mask and pulls it on just as a couple of guards start heading their way. A few checks later and they are waved through the checkpoint.
"See? I told you. Easy as fucking pie."
"Listen, X-File. I haven't eaten a real meal in years. I get cravings. It happens."
Kevin turns the car towards a shadier area of the district where the lights are a little dimmer or all out together. He finds an empty alley, save the mutated rats, and parks. He checks for an exit before turning the ignition off.
"Keep it on," he says, getting out of the car. He rummages through the trunk, adding things to a large bag. Shouldering it, he jumps for a ladder nearby, climbing the fire escape to the top. Ben follows. They land on the roof and look around. Kevin sneaks toward the opposite ledge.
"That," he whispers, pointing to a large building being guarded by no less than fifty draculoids, "is the warehouse."
"You want us to break into that?! Are you insane? We don't have enough energy to snipe them all."
"I got it all covered. They are smart enough to handle a single sniper or two, but seven, they can't move fast enough." He grins and sets the bag on the ground, pulling out a larger version of their laser guns and a stand. "I'm setting up five, then there's you and me. Seven."
"Timing them off to go at random intervals?"
"Exactly. You catch on quick. I've modded them out to take remote control instruction. The sniper scopes are hooked into a mainframe and I can adjust as needed. I'm thinking one second delay for this one, maybe a three second on the second one."
"As long as it's not a clear pattern they can get used to."
"On your A game tonight, X-File."
Ben smirks. "When aren't I?"
"I plead the fifth on that one."
"I don't think those laws apply anymore."
"Touché, but I'm still not answerin' that question," Kevin says, finishing setup on the first one. They move to the next building and repeat the process. In about two house, all five are done and fully operational.
"You worried about them being destroyed?"
"Nah. Got extras in the trunk and the plans to make more. Patents and shit like that."
"There isn't a patent office anymore."
"You know, you're a real buzzkill sometimes. Cut me some slack, X-File."
"Yes, Gearhead, sir!"
Kevin smacks him in the arm and crouches down behind a dumpster closest to the warehouse. It has the best view of the mayhem about to occur. He presses a button and the laser guns start adjusting themselves and firing. Draculoids fall one right after another. They each take out a few that don't look their way and in about fifteen minutes the visible ones are all down.
"Only one gun taken out," Kevin remarks. "I think we did pretty well."
"Concentrate. The window, Gearhead?"
"No more than ten minutes tops now. Let's get a move on."
Chapter 4: Sing
Better Living Industries sets up a draculoid plant just on the outskirts of town. The disappearances start slowly. Mainly older residents past their expiration dates. No discernible pattern. Draculoids start appearing on the edges of the city. The residents, no stranger to oddities given their own personal celebrity, think nothing of it. At first. Then people start vanishing in numbers and the talk increases.
Eventually, they decide something is going on. The mayor holds a town meeting and while everyone is away, Kevin hacks into the mainframe of the city. He finds Better Living's plans, the methods they are using... will use. Bellwood is going to fall and there isn't anything he can do about it.
He loads up on ammunition, fixes up his car to deal better with sand, and gets out of the city. He doesn't bother grabbing his best friend or his girlfriend. He doesn't inform his mom or his stepdad of his decision. Nor does he give two weeks notice to Al at the auto shop. There isn't time for niceties. He is a target or will be. He knows it better than anyone. Actually, everyone one he knows will be one for the corporation. He just hopes they are smart enough to get out while they still can.
Ben calls. Incessantly. More than Gwen. Which, if Kevin thought about it harder, would be more telling, but he doesn't pick up. They know how to survive. They did it without him for years. What's a few more? Besides, Max will show back up -- like he always does right before something big happens and spirals out of control -- and take them all to safety. He'll definitely get the Plumber's Academy apprentices involved. And maybe, just maybe, convince that jerk Albedo to fight on the side of good for once.
Kevin tells himself they'll be fine. Because they have to be. He ignores the nagging side of his brain that tells him they might not. He knows he can keep a better on them from the outside. If the maps are right, it will be swallowed up into Zone Six.
When the first major attack happens, Kevin is in the newly-acquired Zone Five, right on the cusp in between. The garage he used to work at goes up in flames. His old warehouse is captured though he had stripped it before he skipped town. Ben's favourite place, Mr. Smoothy, gets blown up after he has been on radio silence for a week. It sucks, but at the same time, he is definitely thankful that there won't be anymore avocado and anchovy smoothies smelling up his ride.
His phone vibrates more. He doesn't check it for weeks. Not until after the fires in Bellwood have gone out and the large force of draculoids has marched out. Eventually, he opens it.
You're a jerk.
Grandpa Max got us out. Barely. You're still a jerk.
DID YOU KNOW THEY BLEW UP MR. SMOOTHY?!
Sorry. Anyway, Grandpa says this isn't secure anymore. We're going underground. Fight this. You in?"
Kevin doesn't reply. He's already been recruited. The running has started.
Chapter 5: Planetary (GO!)
The beauty of the Neon District is how absolutely gorgeous it looks at the sun sets. Kevin can appreciate it, even if he hates what it represents. Regardless, they have to enjoy it now because it's about to go up in flames. He downs a bottle of Zone Two Brew and hangs his arm out of the window as the first of the explosions goes off. Ben reaches out for another, already halfway to completely knackered.
"Not so fast there, X-File," Kevin says, tipping his beer bottle back and forth. "You'll miss the fireworks."
"Promise I not miss them."
"You're already slurring your speech."
Ben slumps against him. "Pretty please, Gearhead," he all but purrs.
Another explosion rips through the district. Dracs run about trying to escape, but the gates are on lock down. Kevin would feel bad, but the people they used to be are no longer in there.
"Oooooh aaaahhh," Ben says and Kevin rolls his eyes.
"Yeah, no more beer for you, sunshine." He pushes Ben to the other side of the seat.
The warehouse goes up in a giant mushroom cloud. Ben giggles, draping himself halfway out the window, thinking it will give him a better view. Kevin drops the empty bottle in the backseat and pulls Ben back into the car.
"No more fireworks?" he asks as Kevin starts up the car.
"Nope. No more fireworks, X-File. You can watch them in the side mirror. I think a couple of days in the desert would be for the best."
"But it's gonna be so hoooot."
"That's how it is in the Zones. Deal with it."
Ben frowns, a slight groan slipping between his lips, but he doesn't complain further, reaching into the back and pulling up the last beer. Kevin would grab it and toss it into the back, but he's distracted, trying his best to avoid the debris falling down around them. Plus, Ben's already popped the top and guzzling it like a man dying of thirst.
"Burn baby, burn," Ben screams out the window, followed by a hiccup.
Kevin shakes his head and shifts into third, tires spraying dust in their wake. The district burns alone tonight.
Chapter 6: The Only Hope for Me is You
Zone Five runs hot. Ultra violet is the name of the game and Kevin wouldn't be there except there is this warehouse deep in the district full of laser guns and other useful paraphernalia for warding off drac attacks, ghosting, and possible extermination. He hears the sounds of laser blasts and glass crashing to the ground. Trying to ignore it, he stakes out the path he needs to take to the warehouse. Someone screams and Kevin kicks the wall in frustration. He races back to his car and loads up two laser guns before heading towards the sounds.
The guy can't be much older than twenty, Kevin thinks as he peers into the gunfight. Dracs are down all around except for a few standing in a tight group. Kevin shakes his head and locks his arm, using it to steady his shots. Two draculoids go down before the third, with his hand wrapped tight around the guy's throat, turns towards him.
Kevin watches him struggle. Kill him or kill the guy in his hands. It is, admittedly, a hard decision, but he doesn't have time to wait. He sends a laser blast between the dracs eyes and sees the two of them crumble to the ground. Satisfied, he steps into the room, crunching glass underfoot as he makes his way towards the man in green.
"Any injuries you're sportin' besides the bruise necklace?"
The man shakes his head, rubbing gingerly at his throat. He gets up shakily and Kevin reaches out to put a hand on his shoulder to steady him.
"X-File," he manages to say after a few minutes.
Kevin smirks. He has heard of this man. "Gearhead. How crazy are you to take over twenty dracs on your own?"
"I didn't." X-File moves out from under the grasp and over to a few non-draculoid bodies in a group. He kneels down and checks for pulses. None. He frowns. "This was Service Ace. We...used to go to high school together." He looks at another. "And that was Quiet Quills. Last to go down." X-File pauses between the last guy and girl. "Loud Mouth and Quick Step got a few before another group came in and took them down. We were supposed to get back up..."
"The Neon District fell last night," Kevin says. "That's where your relief was comin' from, right?"
X-File nods. "Any one get out?"
"Wrench, White Out, Miss Lucky for sure. Didn't hear anything about Tech Three or Heatblast, but there was tons of static and I barely heard the first three."
"You know about The Wrench!?"
"Who doesn't?" Kevin asks cockily, pulling off the mask of the draculoid he shot in the head.
X-File shrugs. "Then you know I'm Ben--"
"Just don't, okay?" Kevin interrupts. "You're X-File, I'm Gearhead. If I know who you really are, it's gonna make it all that much worse if you become a drac and I have to ghost you."
Ben nods, hanging his head low. "There were trying to rescue me... I didn't want them to die."
"No one wants anyone to die," Kevin says, grabbing Ben's wrist and pulling him back through the broken window pane. "Come on. We gotta get out of here. I'm sure one of those draculoid cronies hit the alarm and in no time we're gonna be flooded with Korse and his boys."
Chapter 7: Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid...Traffic
Doctor Death comes on over the static. Ben smacks him to be quiet and turns up the volume.
"Bad news from the zones, tumbleweeds," the DJ says. They exchange a look, then go back to the radio. "...clash with an exterminator...ghosted."
Kevin swallows and Ben lowers his mask back into place.
"...it's time to hit the red line," Doctor Death continues. "Keep your boots tight, keep your gun close, and die with your mask on if you got to." The DJ sighs. "Here's the traffic..."
Ben turns down the volume until they can just make out which zones to avoid.
"Two of our strongest fucking allies," Kevin says, smacking the steering wheel in frustration.
"We still have Party Poison, Fun Ghoul, and Miss Lucky out there in the zones."
"Plus White Out. Six people ain't gonna take down Korse and Better Living." Kevin takes his gun out of an inner jacket pocket as a precaution.
Ben sighs as the radio turns to static again. "Head to the Neon District then. We can sneak into the Fever Festival."
Kevin turns the engine and the tires squeal as he pulls onto the road.
Chapter 8: Party Poison
The word is that Better Living Industries have been relatively quiet. They are working on something big. Something that takes all their manpower away from policing the zones, except for Four and One, but those are the big, important areas, so Kevin isn't that worried. He cruises into Zone Three for the Fever Festival being held there.
"What exactly goes on at one of these things?"
"Hedonistic shit, X-File. Get so trashed that you forget why you're running, why you have no friends or family, why your hometown got destroyed. Complete and utter denial until you wake from a killer hangover and it starts all over again."
They can hear the thumping bass and screeching guitars from five miles out. Fever Festivals are the only time to break loose without the possibility of being ghosted on purpose. Of course, people carry their guns anyway and accidents tend to happen when you are inebriated.
"Survival of the fittest," Kevin says as he parks the car next to a chain link fence. "Electric, don't touch until someone fucks with the generator."
Ben stays as far away from the fence as possible. The party is five house in when they finally see the first person passed out from a combination of heat and alcohol. Kevin bends down and checks his pulse. Still alive.
"He'll be at the bottom of the heap," he says with a laugh, standing and walking along the periphery of the mass of bodies moving to the rhythm of the music. He picks up a couple of beers from an open cooler and passes one off to Ben.
"It tastes horrible," Ben says, spitting out as much as he can and wiping his sleeve on his jacket.
"Ain't no smoothie, X-File," Kevin says, taking a long swig. "It's the best we got out here. Anything harder or better was already confiscated. The Zone version of moonshine, designed to fuck you up and make you forget for a little while."
Ben hands the bottle back. "I'll take my chances staying sober."
Kevin shrugs, finishes they first bottle and chucks it against the fence. It smashes and the liquid that hits the metal sizzles.
Chapter 9: Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back
Kevin gets intel about a warehouse deep in the heart of Zone Six, right where Bellwood used to stand. It's apparently full of draculoid processing materials. If they can get in there and torch the place... It isn't heavily fortified. Kevin figures it's not that important to Korse's plans or there would be as many dracs as the last warehouse they overtook.
"This seems way too easy," Ben says.
"Heatblast got us this info through Show Pony. I thought you said you trusted him."
"Of course I trust him... I just don't trust them."
Ben crosses his arms and looks out the window, waiting for their last partner to arrive. Kevin flips through the plans for the warehouse, making mental note of all possible exits. Just in case. Because Ben isn't the only one feeling a bit uneasy. A knock on the window brings Ben mask to mask with Heatblast.
"Long time no see."
"Glad you got out of the Neon District before it flipped."
"Yeah..." Heatblast rubs at the back of his head. "We tried, you know, to get to you sooner, but The Wrench just barely got us out. We heard about Zone Five... sorry man."
Ben shakes his head. "Don't worry about it. They went down fighting and I got out."
Heatblast looks remorseful regardless. "Anyways, I see Gearhead got the intel. I wasn't sure because I hadn't heard from Show Pony since. It seems pretty easy though. I've been staking it out for a few weeks. No extra dracs around."
"Any dracs about in general?" Kevin asks, closing the file and shoving it back into the glove box.
"Nope," Heatblast confirms with a shake of his head.
"Good enough for me." Kevin gets out of the car and loads up items from the trunk. "Come on, X-File. The sooner we destroy this, the fast we can get back to Zone Three."
Ben looks skeptical, but he joins the two of them.
"It won't take long. Maybe an hour at the most getting to the core and setting the blaze."
"See? Easy." Kevin slams the trunk closed and tosses a laser gun towards Ben. "Lead the way, Heatblast."
They are taken down a long alley. Heatblast weaves them in and out, pausing between streets to make sure no one is looking. As they come upon the warehouse, Kevin's uneasy feeling gets more pronounced.
"I'll go on ahead, since I know the area," Heatblast explains. "When the coast is clear, I'll flash a signal and you two come along. Okay?"
Ben and Kevin nod in agreement, pulling up bandannas to mask the rest of their faces.
"I still don't like this. Can't we just say forget it? I mean, when is easy too easy?"
Kevin leans back against a dumpster. "This might be heading that way."
"Well... it doesn't matter now. He just gave us the all-clear," Ben says with a sigh. "We should go."
They sneak over to Heatblast and enter through the front doors of the Better Living Industries warehouse. Down countless halls, the rooms are empty, like it's never been used.
"I think this is a trap," Kevin whispers to Ben as they get further into the building.
"It's too late to back out now, right?"
Kevin nods. Heatblast disappears behind a corner. As they speed up to catch him, the gunfight begins and laser blasts streak past their vision.
"Hit the deck!" Heatblast shouts from somewhere up ahead.
Ben pulls Kevin down to the ground as dracs start running by.
"We have to get out of here," Kevin yells over the sound.
"I'm not leaving Heatblast behind!"
Kevin crawls forward. The dracs have formed a circle around Heatblast. It was over before it even started. He watches one put a needed into his arm and another pull a draculoid mask over his face. They can't wait any longer. He slinks back and gets to his feet. Pulling Ben up, they run back through the warehouse as the dracs come chasing them. The man formerly known as Heatblast is at the head of the pack.
Chapter 10: S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W
The warning are all over 109. Kevin peels the car out of Zone Two and finds a stretch of desert along Route Guano with lots of dunes and rocks. Pulling up behind one, he gets out of the car and motions for Ben to do the same. He pops the trunk and tugs out a large camouflaged tarp.
"Help me get this over her," he says in a hurry. "We got maybe twenty minutes before Korse and his men come this way."
"We cut this way too close."
"How the fuck was I supposed to know the Corp would do a search today?"
"You weren't," Ben sighs.
Kevin doesn't say anything as they finish adjusting the cover. They fix up the open spots with medium sized rocks and hills of sand. As they hear the trucks coming, they shimmy underneath the car despite the blistering heat. Kevin pulls out his laser gun and a pair of small binoculars.
Close, he writes in the sand.
How far from us?
Still on Guano. 200 yds.
Ben holds his breath. Silence is golden. No one knows Korse's technology.
Dracs. 11 o'clock.
They can't risk a gun battle out in the open. Ben brings his gun out, letting his breath out as slowly as he can manage. His heart pounds in his chest. It gets louder and louder in his ears until Kevin elbows him in the side.
All clear. Don't move.
The sound of trucks stay for hours and they stay completely still for a long time. It is night before either one of them feel remotely safe enough to risk moving.
Chapter 11: Summertime
Kevin remembers a summer back before all hell broke loose. There's a beat up Winnebago that had definitely seen better days, an annoying girl with bright red hair, and a scrawny ass kid with shocking green eyes.
He knows where they met up: an abandoned subway platform in his old hometown, but the years have made the reason why they became friends fuzzy.
Ben punches him and holds up a Sumo Slammers trading card. In the darkness, he can make out the word 'Ishiyama' across the top.
Oh. Right.. Then shit had gotten real and they ran.
He pushes Ben's hand away. Not now, he mouths as another BL truck crawls past with its searchlights going. He pulls the other back behind a rock when the light is dangerously close. Kevin waits. Ben taps his foot in annoyance.
Letting out a deep breath, Kevin sinks against the rock. "I miss my car."
"My grandpa had this awesome RV," Ben says, tucking the card back into his pocket. "We totally could have outran those goons."
Kevin thinks about it, briefly. "I don't care what kind of space shit he had equipped. It was old and wouldn't have lasted five minutes against a group of Dracs."
Ben looks at him, eyes filling with defiance. Kevin stares back, daring him. They keep it up for a little while before Ben sighs.
"You're probably right."
"Of course, I am X-File." Kevin stands and brushes off the dust. "It's nearby. I just know it."
Chapter 12: Destroya
They have been looking for days. Almost a week if Kevin had to guess, but the Challenger is nowhere in sight. Not in the warehouse in Zone Three. Not behind the three twenty foot rocks in the desert between Zones Two and Five. He can't get signal. Rather, he doesn't want to risk it. They would have to run before the phone call even connected.
"Can't you just steal another car?" Ben finally asks, kicking at sand in frustration. He sinks into the small amount of shade behind a tall hill of a sand dune.
"Steal another car?! Who do you think I am, X-File? Some kind of juvenile delinquent with a penchant for hot wiring?"
Ben doesn't miss a beat when he says, "Yes, exactly."
"That's bullshit. I fucking saved your ass from dracs. I could have left you there to be ghosted. Some kind of partner you are. And FYI, I didn't steal my car. Paid for her fair and square in the Neon District before it went dirty."
"Why didn't you leave me there?" Ben asks indignantly. "I was doing fine on my own until you arrived."
"Yes, just perfectly fantastic. So tell me why a drac had you up against a wall by your throat and was like five seconds from exterminating the fuck out of you?"
Ben crosses his arms. "Misstep."
Kevin snorts. "You know what? Fuck you X-File. You can stay here and when I find my car, I'll think about coming back for your sorry ass."
He starts to walk away, heading toward Zone Six. He ignores the shuffling of sand and Ben's shadow as he catches up to Kevin's pace.
Chapter 13: The Kids from Yesterday
Kevin isn't exactly sure when driving his car down dark roads became a tactic for survival rather than something he did for fun. He remembers a summer between his seventeenth and eighteenth birthdays where he spend a good month tuning the car up to perfection before taking it out on a long drive down winding California highways and byways, windows down, music loud, wind rushing through his hair.
Interspersed with those moments of solace, Kevin remembers a brand new green leather jacket and the sound of liquid being slurped up through a straw. Such simpler times. If only...
They drive slowly through the wreckage of a familiar town. Ben looks around in all directions, trying to see if there are any survivors. Kevin doesn't have the heart to tell him he drove through a couple of weeks before they met up and everyone had been ghosted or rounded up to become a draculoid.
"Oh, that's the Mr. Smoothy!" Ben cries out, tapping the glass.
"What's left of the Mr. Smoothy, you mean, and hey! No smudges on the glass."
"Yeah," Ben says a bit dejectedly, pulling his hand away. "And that used to be the Burger Shack. Best chili fries on the planet."
Ben smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes. "I know... I know. Detaching myself now."
"Good," Kevin says, switching gears and speeding up. As he steers the car out of Bellwood, he dims the lights. There's no going home.
Chapter 14: Goodnight, Dr. Death
Doctor Death Defying's voice breaks through the static as they drive down Route Guano. "The lights are out and the party's over. It's time for me, Doctor D, to start running and say goodbye for a little while."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Kevin growls. "Where the fuck are we going to get our info now?"
"So remember even if you're dusted, you may be gone, but out here in the desert, your shadow lives on without you. This is Doctor Death Defying, signing off."
Ben's hand grips the door handle as the music starts playing. They don't speak as it turns to static once more.
"The last time he did this, no word for six weeks. Do you know how many people were ghosted in that amount of time? Too many to fucking count, X-File."
"I know, but--"
Ben is cut off as the static disappears. "The Wrench here. Finally was able to find a frequency. X-File, I know you're still out there. I can only assume you are safe. If you haven't found Gearhead yet, do so. He can protect you as well as I can."
Kevin smirks under his mask and gives Ben a nod.
"The only thing I can suggest is avoid Zone Four at all costs. Gather as much ammunition as possible. Gearhead will know where to look. Korse is exterminating left and right. White Out barely made it. We lost Tech Three though. Everyone else is safe. Pay attention to the BLI news out of Zone One and Battery City. It'll help."
The static cuts in and out a few times. "I have to go for now, but keep an eye to the sky and your finger on the pulse. The Wrench, signing off."
Static crackles through the speakers. "Man, that old man is craftier than I give him credit for. I bet he made his own untraceable transmitter."
Ben shrugs and sinks in the seat as Kevin steers them away from Zone Four and towards Zone Six. At least his cousin is okay. Kevin looks over and ruffles his hair.
"Wrench knows what he's doing. He won't let the dracs get him. We gotta trust him. There's no one else."
Chapter 15: Vampire Money
The BL Industries Warehouse is situated in Zone Four at the end of a long destitute stretch. You either have to be with the corp or incredibly brave to live there. Kevin associates 'brave' with 'stupider than tits on a wild boar hog' and avoiding the area's inhabitants at all costs. The population, unfortunately, consists of one of his sorta, kinda, closest friends, Argit. Also known as Rat Fink.
Kevin knows Argit plays both sides like a finely tuned fiddle. The BL Corporation trusts him to lead them to those in the resistance zones who are against the establishment. Kevin trusts him not tell the guys in masks of his whereabouts. All-in-all, a pretty good deal.
Argit gives him a copy of the warehouse key and a new laser gun. "Newest model, Gearhead."
"Yeah, thanks," Kevin says and slips the jet black piece into a holster on his hip. "Patrol times?"
"Oh, yeah. Right." He looks around and slides a piece of paper into Kevin's hand in exchange for a wad of money.
Kevin smacks his shoulder and takes half of the payment back. "Lovely doin' business with ya."
Argit nods nervously and disappears quickly. It isn't a good sign, but Kevin has had so many bad signs it is hard to tell them apart anymore. He gets out of the zone and into the safety of Two. The wait to go back is at minimum, two days. He can kill enough time between now and then.
Leaning forward, he flips on the radio.