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The Lights You Make

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The day started out normal for Kobra.
He and Ghoul woke up early, before the desert sun had even risen, and were on a simple supply run. It was just the basics: food, water, maybe a new jacket for Party cause he’d ripped his old one pretty badly, and some battery packs for their guns.
All in all, a simple run.
Party, as always, was hesitant to let him and Ghoul go out on their own.
It made sense really, Kobra being his younger brother and all. Party always was protective of him, sometimes to a fault.
As for Ghoul, well he and Party weren’t officially ‘dating’ but they sure acted like they were. Stolen kisses and soft looks were common and Kobra had a suspicion that they’d told each other their names.
It was a big deal, something he wasn’t sure he fully supported, but he trusted his brother’s judgement.
He didn’t know for certain though, his brother always changed the topic whenever he asked. When he tried to confront Ghoul, he’d just blushed horribly and ran off.
It was dumb, considering Party had literally saved Ghoul’s life last year.
He’d nearly died, something Kobra would never forget, but he was content with wasting time in admitting his feelings.
Sometimes when Ghoul took his shirt off, the desert heat got rid of any modesty that they had, Kobra found himself staring. Not in an attracted sort of way, Ghoul was so not his type, but more in the morbid fascination sort of way.
He still had scars left over from his near death experience. There were five of them in total, Kobra knew because he’d helped Party sew him back up. Five bullet wounds that were on his chest, shoulder, stomach, and hip. There’d been two in his shoulder.
Ghoul was a lucky bastard to say the least and yet he was still content with dancing around his and Party’s feelings. To Kobra it was obvious they both liked each other but who was he to argue with their logic.
He’d never win anyway.
“Dude I’m gonna fuckin’ melt,” Ghoul whined from the passenger seat.
Kobra didn’t look at him, eyes kept on the road, but he smiled a little at his friend.
“Stop bitchin’.”
Ghoul groaned and sunk a little in his seat with only a muffled curse. He was acting like a child but Kobra had learned quickly not to humor him. It was better to just ignore the attitude until he stopped.
He cared about Ghoul but sometimes tough love was the only option. Unless Kobra wanted to listen to him complain about the heat for the rest of their trip home. Which he most certainly did not.
Besides, they had the windows down and the old Trans-AM’s roof was open as well. The wind that blew in their faces stung a little ‘cause of the heat and the sand mixed in.
Air conditioning had once been a feature in the car, however after years in the desert it was no longer a comfort they had the option of. Kobra kinda wished they knew a real mechanic so they could get it fixed but, he also knew that trusting new people would get you killed out here, more often than not.
“How much longer?” Ghoul asked, making a valiant effort in keeping his whining to a minimum.
Kobra shrugged. Maybe another half hour before they got home, depending on whether or not they made it through the final stretch without any incident.
This run had been… uncharastically easy.
They’d found a running convenience store out by the edges of Zone 3, gas pumps and everything, and had stocked up. The prices were high, 50 for a fucking pack of granola bars, but it was their only option unless they wanted a fight or to steal.
Despite feeling a bit cheated by the prices, Kobra was in a good mood. Their trunk was packed full of supplies, enough to last the three of them well over a month.
They hadn’t managed to find a jacket for his brother but that wasn’t a priority, just something that he’d like to have. Party probably wouldn’t mind too much, seeing as they’d at least tried.
“Shit. Time ’s it?” Ghoul mumbles, leaning forward to fuck with the radio dial.
Kobra glances at his watch.
“Quarter ‘till three,” he says, watching Ghoul grin and turn on the radio.
Doctor Death Defying’s voice soon fills the speakers, giving the traffic report like he did every day at this time.
“Good evening Motorbabies! Looks like a peaceful day out here in the Zones. No raids or Dracs ‘av been spotted by my Eyes but that don’t mean y'all should go all soft on me. Quiet ain’t ever a goo-”
The broadcast cuts out abruptly, Kobra swerving a bit as he looks at the radio. After a few tense, quiet moments, the radio cuts back on and the broadcast continues.
“Sorry ‘bout that darlins, just got word of a patrol heading down Guano. Looks like they’re coming out of Three and down into Two as we speak. So, keep your eyes peeled and your guns close ‘cause I’ve gotta bad feelin’ ‘bout this one folks.”
Kobra and Ghoul exchange a worried glance.
They cross into Zone two at that moment, their current base being there, and instantly Ghoul is alert. His gun is in his hand, eyes trained on the road behind them while Kobra keeps watch in front. It’s tense, neither of them really breathing.
A clap with a bunch of Dracs is not something they wanna do today. Not when there’s only two of them. Hell, not even when there’s three of them.
It’s silent except for the engine thundering as Kobra guns it down Guano. They need to get home, now.
The radio kicking back on startles Kobra but he manages not to swerve this time as his brother’s concerned voice comes through.
“Party to the AM.”
Ghoul grabs the CB radio’s microphone, clicking the button in and answering Party quickly so that he doesn’t feak more than he probably already is.
“Sup.”
Kobra fights back a smirk, knowing how worried Party probably is. He continues to keep his eyes on the road, searching for the tale tale signs of Dracs, as Party answers.
“You guys okay? Doc’s broadcast said there’s Dracs out.”
Ghoul looks over to Kobra, grinning.
“Are we okay?” He asks Kobra, serious except for the mischievous gleam in his eyes.
If Party doesn’t punch him, Kobra will.
“Just answer ‘im before he has a heart attack.”
Ghoul frowns at being shut down in his joke but listens to Kobra all the same.
“Yeah we’re milkshakes dude. Haven't seen anythin’ yet. Prolly gonna make it back without seenin’ ‘em.”
Being a City rat, not Kobra’s favorite term but the first one that came to mind, Ghoul had struggled a bit in understanding their slang at first. He’d ask why they shortened everything and gave everything a nickname, which of course led to Kobra and Party teasing him endlessly about it. Lovingly of course.
He’d soon picked up on it though. His long, drawn out sentences that flowed together perfectly transformed into chopped bits of slang and filler words.
A true rebel if Kobra ever saw one.
“Thank the Witch,” Party’s relieved voice came over the radio a moment later. “Just get yer asses home safe. That’s an order.”
The last bit was teasing, supposed to lighten the mood.
Party had only just recently realized that hey, they were a crew and that crews were supposed to have shit like leaders and baddass names.
They were still working on the name part, toying with Demolition Lovers and simply Venom. However, Party had been a bit shocked when Kobra and Ghoul had agreed, unanimously, that he should be their leader. He was still trying to get a feel for the dynamic of the whole thing.
They already basically followed his lead but none of it was official.
Not until recently at least.
“Yes sir,” Ghoul said, mock saluting and turning off the radio.
Party couldn’t see him but it did make Kobra break a small smile.
A small one.
Just as Kobra began to think that they would get back home without incident, the radio kicked back on. This time it was the normal one, still turned on and tuned to Doc’s station.
“Bad News my darlin’s, looks like an unlucky bunch jus’ ran head first into that Drac patrol. My Eyes are tellin’ me that they took most of the City’s goons out but their damages are still being assessed…”
Doc began to talk about keeping safe again, warning them all to stay inside and not go out unless they had too.
Kobra wasn’t listening, attention now on the dusty cloud kicking up about a mile ahead of them. He could just barely see the outlines of Drac vans and what might be motorbikes but it was clear this was the clap Doc had mentioned.
Kobra, keeping one hand on the wheel, used the other to pull his gun from it’s holster on his thigh. He takes a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for whatever may be ahead.
All of Ghoul’s jokes are gone, replaced with stone cold concentration. He’s afraid but hiding it well.
As they speed closer, the vans began to come into view. They’re all shot up, laser marks scorching all over them. Kobra can’t see any movement but still they park the car about a thousand yards away.
Glancing over at Ghoul, they share a nod and get out to investigate.
It stinks of burned metal and clothing, nearly making Kobra gag. As they get closer, he wants to throw up for a different reason.
Scattered out over the road and into the sand are bodies. A fuck ton of them.
Dracs lie dead, still smoldering wounds in their chests and on their masks. Even worse though, there’s rebels laid out as well.
Their bright colored hair mixing with the sand as they lie, masks on and guns still in hand. Ghoul reches behind him and Kobra feels a pang of sympathy. He’s never been in a real firefight. Not like Kobra and Party have.
That doesn’t make it any easier though as the two of them wonder around the battlefield in a state of shock.
That’s what it feels like.
Like one of those old pictures from the Wars, bodies everywhere and no way to tell who is who.
It’s horrible.
It’s so quiet, unnerving, when Kobra knows that just a few minutes ago these people were alive and fighting for their lives.
All of the bikes are turned on their side, the crew probably having to hop off quickly. There looks to be about 15 bikes, a big crew, and Kobra can’t bring himself to count the bodies.
A piercing cry breaks through the silence, scaring Kobra so badly that he fires accidentally out into the open desert. Looking around hastily for the source of the sound, something unnervingly close to a baby’s wailing, Kobra’s eyes land on one body in particular.
It’s a woman; her long, curly brown hair tangled and covered in sand. She’s laying facedown, a huge blaster wound burned into her back. It’s still smoking a little as Kobra leans over.
The screaming is loudest here, whatever it is laying right underneath the fallen rebel.
He turns her over, gentle as possible, while Ghoul hovers behind him. When the woman is turned over, her eyes peer into Kobra’s.
They’re full of pain but they also have a softness to them that he was not expecting.
Then he sees the thing she was on top of.
A small, squirming and screaming, bundle lay on the ground the woman was laying over. All Kobra can see is a freaking mop of curly hair and the beginnings of a forehead poking out of the blanket, but he’s already picking the baby up.
He pulls the blanket away, revealing a red-faced and screaming infant. She looks pissed, as every baby is, but unharmed. So, he wraps her back up in the light material to keep her from the worst of the sun’s radiation and turns to Ghoul.
She’s stopped crying now, going still in his arms and Kobra swears she cuddles up to him.
Ghoul is still staring, unmoving as he watches Kobra.
“What are we gonna do?” Kobra asks.
They’re not cut out to raise a baby. They’re freaking teenagers in the middle of a goddamned desert.
There’s a groan, not Ghoul’s this time, and Kobra instantly is standing and searching the bodies once more.
Maybe someone else is still alive. He allows himself to hope so, needing some good out of this whole situation.

They find the groaning man only a few feet from where they found the infant. He’s got similar hair to the child but that’s the only good thing.
Lying prone in the sand, he’s got one hand over a nasty wound on his stomach, and the other shielding his eyes from the sun. He’s filthy and there’s a cut on his forehead that’s bleeding pretty badly, sand and shit sticking to it.
Kobra hands the baby to Ghoul, who takes her without complaint, and goes over to the man. He seems conscious but only barely so, the wound in his stomach likely the cause of that.
“Hey,” Kobra says, keeping his voice quiet and calm. “Hey, can you hear me?”
“Whoosethere” the man slurs, removing his hand from his face and squinting at Kobra.
“Friendly face here to help.”
With that the man opens his eyes fully, looking around in growing panic at the scene around him.
“Oh god,” he mutters, visibly turning pale at the sight of his crew’s dead bodies.
Then a look of absolute horror passes over his face and he tries to push himself up. He fails, unsurprisingly, and collapses back down onto the sand.
A little bit of blood begins to trickle between his hands and Kobra tries to get him to stay still. All the while the stranger keeps mumbling about a woman and something about a sidecar, none of which Kobra has any clue what he means. He’s fighting surprisingly strong for a man shot in the stomach and Kobra has to give him a bit of credit for that.
If only the stranger could fucking realize he’s trying to keep him from dying out here and just stop fighting him.
“Hey. Hey, dude calm down, can’t understand ya.”
The man does calm a little but Kobra notices more blood coming from his fingers and places his hands over the man’s own. Pressing down, the stranger winces and groans, but he looks at Kobra with clear, fear ridden eyes.
“My ma, she was with us. I went down and I-”
The baby decided to cry again at that moment, perfect timing Kobra would realize later, and the man jerked his head to try and peer around Kobra.
Ghoul was shussing her, his hand holding her head as he bounced a little with her against his chest in order to soothe her.
“Oh god, is - is that- is that-”
He’s breathing fast, nearly panicking as he fights Kobra’s hands and tries to get up again.
“Damn it dude, stay the fuck down. You’re gonna bleed out-”
“My sister- she’s my-” The man interrupts, stuttering and causing Kobra to loosen his pressure just a bit.
Ghoul swears behind him but gets the baby to calm down again. They should probably get her out of the heat.
“She’s okay,” Kobra tries, pressing again against the torn skin and clothing of the man’s abdomen.
All of his thrashing and fighting has torn the blaster wound pretty badly and Kobra knows they need to get him to calm down before he does himself in.
“She’s okay?”
The stranger’s voice is weak all of a sudden, fight leaving him as he stares through half opened eyes at Kobra. He’s watching somewhere beyond him, probably at Ghoul and the baby.
“Yeah. Not a scratch, can’t say the same for you though.”
“Ma?” he questions, the single word slurred as he begins losing the battle for consciousness.
Kobra is convincing himself that he’s just falling asleep, instead of ya know thinking of the possibility that the, attractive his head supplies unwantedly, man was dying.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers sincerely.
Suddenly the man is moving again and Kobra can’t stop him in time. He sits up in a blink of an eye, a blaster in his hand that they hadn’t noticed, and fires.
He freezes, realizing that this might have been a trap for the stranger to lure them in and then kill him. Kobra waits for the burning pain and unconsciousness that will accompany being shot.
It doesn’t come.
However, a thump comes from behind him and Kobra turns around quickly as the stranger collapses back against the sand. A sinking feeling tells him that it’s Ghoul who has just been shot and is laying in the sand dead. Instead, he’s met with a new body, but not his friend’s.
A Drac lays dead now, only a few steps behind a very surprised Ghoul. He’s holding the baby close to his chest, eyes wide as they glance from Kobra to the dead Drac and then to the rebel.
His attention back on the stranger, Kobra realizes that he saved them. Their attention hadn’t been on the Dracs and they would have just been ghosted if it weren’t for the rebel laying in front of him.
The man is unconscious already but there’s still blood coating Kobra’s hand, coming out far more quickly than before. His brain is trying to think quickly, to find some way to save the man.
Do they just carry him over to the Trans-AM and bring him back to their base?
They can’t just leave him here to die though; he just fucking saved their lives.
Kobra’s mind is made and he leans over to pick the man up.
It’s difficult, the man is taller than him and built sturdy instead of his scrawny form, but he manages to hurl him over his shoulder with some effort.
He nods to Ghoul, telling him wordlessly to follow back over to the Trans- AM.
Fuck.
Party’s gonna have a lot of questions when they pull up.