It was the winter of 2017. I was sixteen years old, living on the streets of Battery City, waiting for the day that either I die of starvation or the Dracs get me. It was a daily routine that I hung around in alleyways until dark when I'd sneak around trying to find whatever food I could get my hands on in this goddamn hell hole.
That all changed one cold night, I was wondering down Main Street when I heard a car comming, I rushed into the nearest corner, expecting to see a group of Dracs patrolling the streets in one of their shiny white cars. But instead, I saw an old convertible Trans-Am with a spider painted on the hood. The occupants of the car were four men, I couldn't make out their faces in the dark. They were the saviors I'd been praying for, I just knew. They didn't see me, but just kept driving down the street.
Then, out of nowhere, a group of Dracs, at least ten, came out and attacked the group of four. Without showing any sign of fear, the men pulled out colorful ray guns and started shooting. Within five minuites, all the Dracs were dead. Who were these men? The way they took on those Dracs was like it was a daily occourance.
They were about to get back into the Trans-Am and drive off when one of them, a man with bright red hair and yellow mask looked right at me. "Guys, come here for a sec." the group walked over to the corner where I hid. The man with the red hair knelt down next to me and took off his mask, his face was youthful and brave. "Hey, are you okay?" he said kindly, I shook my head, "Do you live here, out on the streets?" he had a tone of empathy in his voice, I nodded, "Do you have any family?" I shook my head again, "Give us a second." the four backed up a couple of feet and stood in a circle, I couldn't make out a lot of what they were saying, but I understood that it was about me.
"Would you want to come with us?" the man with the red hair asked. I nodded excitedly, I was finally getting out of here. "I'm Party Poison. This is my brother, Kobra Kid," he said, motioning to a man with brown hair with a blonde stripe down the middle and somewhat angled features. "And Jet Star," Jet Star had a dark brown afro and a wide face. "And this is Fun Ghoul." He was very short, with wavy dark hair and tattoos up both arms. "We're the Fabulous Killjoys. You know what Killjoys are, right?" I didn't, I could make a guess that 'Killjoys' were people who 'killed joy' but that didn't seem like what it meant in this case. I shook my head. "Well," started the man who went by the name Fun Ghoul, "Killjoys are the outlaws of Battery City. We live out in the Zones, keeping them Drac-free; every once in a while we'll storm Battery City to kill a group. Don't be scared, we all started out in a position similar to yours; if you join us, you'll be able to avenge what happened. How old are you, anyway?"
I hadn't spoken in years, I'd never had the need to; "Uh, s-sixteen." my voice was very shaky.
"You're a brave little thing, you know that?" said Jet Star. I smiled for the first time I can remember.
"Come on, let's get her in the car, another group should be comming along soon." said Party Poison. He stood up and held out his hands to help me up. Then, he put one of my arms around his shoulder, and the other around Kobra Kid's. I was seated in the back seat between Fun Ghoul and Kobra Kid, I don't remember most of the long ride out to Zone 6, just waking up to Kobra Kid tapping my shoulder saying, "We're here." I expected to see a big shiny headquarters, like BL/ind, but instead I saw an old diner graffitied in different colors and symbols. They lead me inside, into a room that consisted of a desk with a microphone and record player sitting on it, the old American flag was hanging on the wall. Sitting at the desk was a man in a wheelchair with long dark hair and a gotee, he had on aviator sunglasses, and a bandanna around his forehead. "Hey Doc, we've got one." said Party Poison. The man, 'Doc' as Party Poison had called him, turned around to face us.
"Wow, fourth one this morning. The Stats found one, a boy, and the Greats found two, a boy and a girl. Where was she?" his voice was low and comforting.
"We found her living in the alleyways in downtown Battery City." said Party Poison. Doc raised his eyebrows.
"You must be a tough one to survive out there so long." Doc said to me, "I'm Doctor Death Defying, I'm in charge of this whole operation." Doctor Death Defying looked me up and down for a second, "When was the last time you ate, girl?" he asked.
"F-four d-days ag-go." I replied nervously.
"Kobra, go get her some food. Party, take her to get some clothes." Party Poison lead me down a hallway to a small room with a large closet. He opened it and said to me, "Here, just find something that fits." I was about to start going through the clothes when two others walked into the room. Two men; the taller of the two was a Killjoy with dark hair that had blonde tips, his eyes were a piercing blue, he wore black jeans and a faded blue tee shirt; the second was weraring white rags like me, he had thick curly, make that frizzy, light brown hair and hazel eyes. "Hey Party." greeted the Killjoy.
"Esc, how's it going?" asked Party Poison.
"Pretty good. I can see we're both busy this morning."
"Yeah, I remember when you were in their position."
"Me too, my friend."
Party looked back over at me and said, "Oh, I'm sorry; this is Fatal Escape." I waved at Fatal Escape, he gave a shy smile.
"Good to meet you." he said.
"Good to meet you too." I said for the first time without stuttering.
"We'll just wait until you guys are done in here." said Fatal Escape, he and the other boy left the room.
Then Party Poison lead me over to the closet again and started taking clothes out and holding them up to me. Finally we found a worn pair of skinnies, a black shirt that had the slogan 'Art Is The Wepon' and flames down the sleeves, a dark red zip-up vest with a purple lightning bolt on the back, black combat boots, and a purple mask with red X's over the eyes. "Your mask is your last defense." said Party Poison, "Don't take it off when you're out in the Zones. It protects your identity, it protects everything we hold dear. As Doctor D. always says, 'Die with your mask on, motherfucker." I put the clothes on and looked in the old dirty mirror in the corner of the room, "Now you look like a Killjoy." said Party Poison, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Doctor D.'s assigned me to train you, if that's okay."
"Yeah." I was glad that Party Poison was going to be my trainer; I'd only known him for a while, but I trusted him.
"You know, you're gonna have to get a name by the end of the day."
"You mean, I get to pick a name?"
"Did you think I was born with a name like Party Poison?" he smirked a bit at his remark.
"Well, no. I thought that maybe you were assigned a name."
"Nope. It's all up to you, so start thinking." I thought long and hard, I decided that since I had a lightning bolt on my jacket, it should be something electric. Electric Poison, no. Electric Hero, fuck no. Electric Revenge, yes, that has a nice ring to it. I told Party, "Nice, it's catchy. Can we call you Trec for short?"
I was glad he liked it, "Yeah, that's cool."
Kobra Kid walked in holding a can with an all-too-framiliar logo on the lable. The face of BL/ind.He handed it to me, "It's all we have." he said softly.
"It's okay, this is all I ate in Battery City, you get acclimated to it after a while."
"That's true." I opened the can and ate it up like it was a gourmet meal.
Then the radio in the room turned on and blasted: "Anywhere, where the city lights are hopeless for you; we don't dare, sing another song for California!" the song made me smile, it's upbeat vibe reassured me that I was safe at last.
"What is that?" I asked, walking over to the radio.
"The radio?" questioned Party Poison.
"No, what's playing on the radio?" I corrected.
"Oh, Mad Gear and Missile Kid." I had no clue what that was.
"What?" I asked.
"This band that plays over the radio, mixed with the transmissions. Nobody knows who they are, their identities are secret to everyone."
"Nobody knows who they are? Not even their Killjoy names?" it seemed like a lot to keep one identity a secret, let alone two identities.
"Nobody knows. Except maybe Doctor D., and of corse the members of Mad Gear and Missile Kid themselves. Come on, you've gotta come meet the others." Party Poison lead me back into Doctor D.'s room, which was now occupied by Jet Star, Fun Ghoul, Doc, Fatal Escape, the boy with the frizzy hair; who was now wearing a dark blue jacket with a mushroom cloud on the front, purple skinnies, black Vans, and was holding a blue motorcycle helmet with the same cloud on it; along with some unframiliar faces: a man wearing poka-dotted blue and white leggings, a thong, and had a helmet on; another wearing dark sunglasses, a bright green jacket, and had his long hair back in a ponytail; another with a black and red skull and crossbones tee and dark straight hair; and the last was tall, with a blue jacket and was typing rapidly on a wireless Vend-A-Hack. "Hey guys." said Party Poison, "I'd like to introduce Electric Revenge."
"Nice name." said Fatal Escape.
"Thanks." I said shyly.
"Trec, this is Show Pony; Doctor D.'s assistant." said Party, gesturing to the man in the poka-dotted leggings.
"And this is Action Scene." the man with the dark sunglasses waved.
"Standard Horror." he motioned to the man in the red and black skull tee, who looked me up and down.
"And last but not least, System Down." the man on the Vend-A-Hack didn't even look up at the sound of his name. "They're all in the Stats with Esc."
Then the front door of the diner slammed behind six Killjoys. The first four were obviously a group; the last two caught my attention: they must be the boy and girl who were rescued this morning. The girl had short wavy purple hair, she had on a green jacket and purple boots. The boy had black hair and wore a black leather jacket and black Converse.
"Alright, we're all here." said Doctor Death Defying, turning his wheelchair around to face the crowd. "A warm welcome to all our new Killjoys. If you didn't already know, I'm Doctor Death Defying, I run this whole shebang. Now, before you're all allowed out in the Zones, you'll have to go through some training. Normally, your trainer is someone in the group that found you; but the Stats and the Greats have only been out in the Zones for a few months, and I don't think they're fit to train yet so here's how it's going to work:" all the Killjoys exchanged looks, "you, what's your name?" he gestured toward the boy with the frizzy hair.
"Missile Maniac." he said, his voice was deeper than I imagined.
"Missile Maniac, you'll be with Fun Ghoul." Fun Ghoul smiled and waved at Missile Maniac.
"And you?" he motioned to the girl with the purple hair.
"Cydenide Venom." she said.
"You'll be with Kobra Kid." she smiled at Kobra, I'd seen her checking him out when she walked in.
"Dark Death." said the boy who was with Cydenide Venom.
"You're with Jet Star." Jet waved.
"And last but not least."
"Electric Revenge." I said.
"Party Poison." as I already knew.