The old towns were always deserted in these parts, except for people who were looking for trouble and she was definitely there looking for trouble and then some. She revved the engine of her worn purple motorcycle to make it go faster, pressing her body closer against the metallic frame so that she could avoid getting the dirt she stirred up in her face as much as possible. It'd reflect off of her helmet's visor but she had very low visibility this far out in the zones to begin with. The air was toxic and thick this far out but the air purifier in her helmet would help her breathe as long as she didn't crack it. The poison left the air with a thick yellowish haze that always left her feeling unsettled. She half expected monsters to come sneaking out of the sand at any moment to attack her.
The midday sun reflected off of her sparkling silver helmet to create a blinding light. It wasn't exactly what someone would wear if they were trying to stay stealthy, but this far out in the zones she could risk wearing it and drawing some attention to herself since it's likely no one would be able to see her anyway. She'd never run across anyone out this far before and she didn't think today would be the day she did.
She had to keep focused, which was a lot harder than it sounded since she had a million things running through her head. No one came into the outer zones without a real reason to, and she certainly had a good enough reason. Riding through this gas was risking death. One crack, one leak in her mask and she'd breathe in the toxins floating in that yellow haze. It wouldn't kill her right away, that'd be too simple. If her mask filled up then she'd surely choke to death in a matter of moments. From as far as she could remember from the rumors she'd heard about the effects of the gas, she'd lose her vision first, then the rest of her senses until her body became rigid with pain and she choked to death as her lungs shut down. Unfortunately that could take hours, depending on how much gas she inhaled. Her lungs surely wouldn't be the first organ to shut down; it'd be more likely that her kidneys would go first. The pain that she'd feel would be horrific.
A chill ran down her spine and she shook it off. Even a crack in her helmet and she could go blind, which in itself would probably leave her dead here in the last of the habitable zones, though she wouldn't really call this habitable. She came to a stop, turning her bike so it would face in the opposite direction. She'd recently been in touch with a powerful arms dealer whose name she didn't know. She was told that here at these coordinates, just inside the gates that held off the radiation from the outskirts of the zone, would be a case with everything she'd need for her mission.
She got off of her bike and walked over to where she saw the beat up old suitcase just lying there. She knelt down near the suitcase and brushed her fingers over it. There was nothing written on it, but there was a small flame symbol burnt into the side of it. She grabbed it by the handle and walked over to her bike. She'd have to rig something to attach the case with but it wouldn't take very long for her to do. She was pretty good at improvising in sticky situations.
She looked up from her notebook where she was practicing her Japanese writing and shut it as she saw who it was. The red jacket would have been telltale enough but the bleached, nearly white, pompadour was a dead giveaway that Kobra Kid wanted her attention for something. She closed her book and set it down in her lap, folding her legs in the process, not needing to respond vocally to let him know he had her attention solely.
"Poison wants to see you." When she didn't get up from where she was sitting, he sat down next to her and leaned his elbows back against the table. He didn't turn to look at her so she knew it wasn't a personal call. Usually Kobra was engaging, funny, and casual but right now she knew it was all business and she wasn't going to find out why Poison wanted to see her right now from him. "He's waiting. And I don't think he has a lot of patience for this either."
He wasn't trying to threaten her or anything, but the leader of the East faction of the Killjoys here in zone three didn't have a lot of patience for much of anything. If she didn't go to him now then he would give the job to someone else, if it was a job at all. Either that or she would have to hunt him down at whatever mess he had gone and gotten himself into.
With some old wire she had in the small storage compartment in the back of her motorcycle, under the seat she had managed to tie the suitcase to the side of her transport. She tugged on it to make sure it wouldn't fall off once she had gained some speed. After that she had gotten out of the seventh zone as fast as she possibly could. It unsettled her there because of how everything was just so damn quiet all the time. If she died out there no one would find her and that bothered her more than anything else about the place.
She drove for a few hours, stopping to park outside of an old bar in the third zone on the West side of Battery City. This wasn't her destination but it was easier to hide her vehicle in a crowded parking lot than it would be out in the emptiness that was the west end of zone four. She ditched her helmet with her bike and headed past the sheds and crude shelters that were littered across the third zone.
No one stared at her here but people had long since learned to avoid eye contact with strangers out of fear of it being the wrong person out in the zones. She carried the case she had collected out in the last zone and resisted the curious urge to look inside of it to find out what kind of gun she would be using for this job. She knew it was one with a scope which was rare to find these days. This was going to be a clean job though, no mess left behind so she'd do it from afar and hopefully with no witnesses so no one would suspect what exactly she was up to on this end of Battery City.
Party Poison had his yellow mask up on the top of his head, holding his red hair out of his face and exposing the shaved sides of his head. He was hunched over his yellow and blue ray gun and he had the whole handle torn off. Part of it looked burnt and she was sure that he was just experimenting with it and hadn't gotten into a fight. He was flicking a strange lighter in his hand and staring at it with a look of confusion. She cleared her throat after she realized he had no idea she was even there.
He immediately looked up at her and flicked the lighter closed, shoving it into his pocket only to pull it back out a moment later. He seemed infatuated with it.
"You wanted to see me?"
"Yeah I did." He got up, moving his ray gun onto a small worn desk next to where he had been sitting and he paced around in front of it, obviously trying to choose his words wisely. "Disco Bitch
" He couldn't help but smile just a little bit, the name always amused him. "I need you to take care of something for me."
"Alright, name the objective." She shrugged casually. She was usually the one sent on this gruesome sort of mission since no one else ever volunteered. She had years ago learned to separate herself from the gore that would be murdering another human being.
"Tiger Beatdown." He waited on her reaction which was exactly as he had assumed it would be.
"Another Killjoy? You want me to take care of
one of our own? Not even just one of our own
" She held her hand in front of her skeptically and gave him a look that displayed her confusion and disgust on the issue. "He's the leader of the West faction of Killjoys. The leader, your partner
and you want me to interfere with him? I'm not doing it without a reason. Once we start turning against each other, they win. You know that as well as I do."
"Don't preach to me sister, I know very well what this means." He was very serious about the situation which was not a side she saw from him often outside of his music. He shoved his hand into his light colored pants.
"Why? Why should I kill him? Why shouldn't I kill you, while we're at it?"
"Because I haven't turned against anyone."
"And he has?"
"We've got reliable sources telling us that he's corrupting his Killjoys and making deals with the dracs. He's ratting out those who don't agree with him and getting our peopled killed. I can't have that. There are reports he's selling orphans to the Dracs to experiment on and it disgusts me. I've thought long and hard about this and this is the only thing to do. I hope and pray that if I ever did such a filthy disgusting thing and made a deal with those fucking dicks out there in the desert that someone would put me out of my goddamn misery because I wouldn't deserve to live."
She made it through the fourth zone in another hour. She didn't have to walk the whole thing thankfully. She found the obvious signs of the Killjoy perimeter in the area and knelt down in the sand. She opened the briefcase that she had found out in the seventh zone and couldn't help but feel a smile just spread over her face.
The gun in the case was in pieces but was so beautifully crafted she couldn't help but be giddy at the idea of using it. She pulled apart the handle and began to twist together the various intricacies, exclaiming in excitement every time she found some new exciting feature on the gun. It was a shame it was designed to ditch after this.
She found a switchblade beneath it all with a note attached to it saying that it was complementary with the purchase of the long range sniper laser. She pocketed the blade to keep for herself and then ditched the suitcase after closing it, burying it in the sand. Leaving behind evidence wasn't that hard to do these days since no one would ever be looking for someone who murdered a Killjoy. They were practically like rats to the police force in Battery City.
She quietly approached one of the guards around the perimeter of the known Killjoy territory and jumped on them, knocking them to the ground, grabbing their nose and covering their mouth. She'd stifle their breathing until they passed out and then leave them there in the sand. By the time they woke up she'd be long gone.
"Shit." A second guard saw her and she dodged the laser fire as it shot overhead. She looked behind her to see where it went into the distance and hurried forward, deciding to just bum rush the guard in hopes he'd be taken off guard and wouldn't shoot at her again. She knocked him onto the ground and pulled the laser pistol from his hand. She tossed it as far as she could and just sat on top of the guard, struggling to keep from being pushed over. After a few moments of trying she managed to get his arms and legs pinned down with her body just long enough so she could plug his nose and mouth and knock him out like his friend.
The alarm would be sounded by now, which wasn't part of her plan but she'd manage to work around it. With any luck it wouldn't take very long for her to be able to accomplish her mission and get the hell out of there regardless of the alarm. She got to her feet and caught her breath. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a bandana and tied it around her face to stifle the heavy breathing caused by the adrenaline of the attack. She dusted herself off and turned her gaze to the desert. She couldn't see anyone heading toward her. For some reason she hadn't expected this to be so easy. Maybe what Party Poison had told her had been true.
"What do you want me to do?" She had been pacing for a good twenty minutes, just thinking about how she would approach this job. It was unsettling to think she would have to kill one of their own. "You don't think he's prepared for such a thing? If someone found out he's turned sides then certainly he's upped security protocols."
"I know." Poison wasn't even looking at her now because he was too busy playing with that damn lighter again, like it would suddenly pop open and reveal some secret to him. It was frustrating to watch him play with it, she just wanted to pull it away from him and yell at him to give her some answers. "I thought about this, don't you think I thought about this? Of course his security will be tight. Even if he weren't
turned he would have tight security. Getting into our place is like getting into a fucking bank vault isn't it? Why would it be any different for Tiger?"
"Okay, so what do you suggest I do? Just walk in there with a big gun and take him the fuck out?"
"No. I suggest you sneak in there. I happen to know you're good at sneaking. You scope him out, take him from far away, ditch the gun then report back here." He finally stuck the lighter in his pocket and stopped playing with it. "You don't want to do it?"
"I'll do it." Disco stepped in front of him and let out a hesitant sigh. "It's just hard to believe that I have to take out one of our own. Once we start fighting amongst ourselves it seems like we've lost our cause altogether."
"So you said before. Trust me, I don't like it anymore than you do. Regardless something needs to be done. We can't sit idly by and let this happen. I got Jet-Star to contact an arms dealer he's used before. Here, take this." He got up from where he was sitting and pulled a slip of paper from his back pocket. "Go to these coordinates and you'll find a suitcase with your weapon for this mission."
"This is in the last zone. You can't be seriously sending me there."
"I know it's dangerous but if I didn't trust you to get it done then I wouldn't offer it to you at all." He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze before pulling away. "Anything else?"
"No." She felt determined to make a difference here now that she had thought it through. Party Poison was right, if this man leading the other branch of Killjoys had turned then he needed to be taken care of. Every organization had its traitors and they had to set an example. This wouldn't be tolerated. "I'll see you when it's done."
"Have you told Tiger Beatdown yet?" She stopped short and ducked low in the hot sand as she overheard voices. Lifting binoculars to her eyes she peered around in search of the source. It was lucky she had heard them before she'd walked another five feet and had been seen. Two armed guards were talking and they looked worried. She found that worried guards were the hardest to deal with. People who were scared were often too trigger happy and would wind up killing before analyzing the situation.
"No, he's on the edge of the zone. By the time I get there to warn him the intruder could have gone past my post. I sent a runner."
"Good idea. What's he doing out so far at the edge of the zone anyway? There's a storm coming he should be taking cover."
"I was told it was none of my goddamn business. You know Agent Alpaca, he's defensive about everything involving Tiger."
That was all that Disco Bitch needed to hear in order to go past her target. They seemed to be concerned with her getting past them but not concerned enough to leave their posts and search for her. All she had to do was stay low to the ground and they wouldn't see her. The wind was picking up around them and a thick haze of sand and dust was hovering over the ground, offering her a good enough cover to remain undetected as long as she remained silent.
She had to keep wiping the goggles on her face to keep her vision steady and she found it odd that she didn't meet as much resistance as she had expected to. She kept along the outskirts of the zone, sure that soon enough she would run into Tiger Beatdown and with any luck he'd be alone and vulnerable. She doubted it'd be that easy, but a girl could dream.
She could hear the sounds of children laughing, playing. She froze and ducked low to the ground and looked through the scope of her gun to see if she could find the source. Children shouldn't be out in this dust storm. She could tell by the clouds in the sky approaching from the outer zones that they were in for more than just this nasty dust storm, much worse more than likely. Through her scope she could see the children running around, playing with a few small old toys that looked like they'd been through the ringer. Regardless of what shape they were in, the kids looked happier than most kids did these days.
Tiger Beatdown was there with them, sitting on an old crate. He was handing out cans of food to the children after he had opened them with a utility knife. Disco wiped the lens of the scope for a second just to make sure she hadn't seen an illusion from the dust. He was indeed feeding the orphans and it looked like it was with some of the Killjoy stock they had sent from the last raid too. This couldn't be right. Why would a man who had planned to turn these kids over to be experimented on sacrifice his personal store of food for them? Something wasn't adding up. She pointed the scope at him. She had a clear shot, right at his head. She could squeeze off the trigger and get out of here before anyone would even notice that she had been so close to him. Something stopped her though. This wasn't right. He was feeding orphans and even if he were going to turn them over it felt like bad karma to do something so vile in front of those kids. They looked so happy. He was smiling and playing with them, telling them stories. It didn't seem like the actions of someone who was going to turn them over likely to meet their deaths.
Some of the older kids were setting up some kind of housing as well, probably in preparation for the storm which means that Tiger must have told them about it. It was hard to predict the weather out here and even people who had lived through the storms and the bad weather had no idea what kind of storm would approach. The clouds were deceiving, only someone who really studied them would be able to tell. That meant that Tiger must have had an expert tell him, only to have shared this information with these kids.
To make matters worse, the kids were wearing patches that were given out to the Killjoys to identify them. They must have been saved by this group, not brought here to ship off.
She put down the gun and thought about the situation at hand. What if she didn't kill him? What if Party Poison's information was wrong? He wouldn't tell her who gave him the information so she couldn't honestly say it was reliable at all. Maybe he had been misled.
On the other hand, she trusted their leader in the east. He had never steered them wrong before and had stuck his neck out for all of them at one time or another. He'd even saved her life a year prior to this and at great risk to him and his brother. Maybe Poison was being deceived by someone but then she had to think how someone would fool him. He barely trusted anyone. She was one of the few in the know for the private information amongst that small tight knit group.
He had to be wrong. She had a gut feeling that someone was lying to Party Poison and she couldn't let this seemingly kind man feeding orphans suffer for it without knowing for sure that he was responsible for the charges against him. She'd find out more about Tiger Beatdown and his organization and return to Party Poison with her findings.
She got up and turned away, walking through the sand. She would have to sneak out of the zone as quietly as she had snuck in which should be easy enough. She was distracted though trying to figure out the situation at hand. Surely she had to be missing something important.
The blow to her head came as a complete and total surprise. She stumbled forward, feeling the hit from behind her. She touched the back of her head to feel blood from the blow and pulled out her laser instantly and turned to face her attacker. Before she could get a proper look he hit her with the butt end of his gun and her vision faded into nothing before she even hit the ground. All she caught sight of was a jacket lined with some kind of fur.
He stepped closer to the form that had gone limp on the ground, pointing his laser down at her. He knelt and checked her pulse. She was still breathing but out cold. He could see the blood dripping down over her brow but wasn't too concerned with it. Any attacker deserved to bleed a little bit. He stood back up and pulled the walkie talkie off of his belt.
"I caught the intruder." He looked down at her and nudged her form with his foot, catching the patch on her arm. "She's a Killjoy from the east." The radio crackled back at him in response.
"The east? Why would she sneak in here?"
"No idea, but she's armed with some pretty deadly looking weaponry." There was no response on the other end of the radio so he just knelt down once more and searched her pockets. He found a piece of paper with some coordinates in the last zone as well as her laser, a switchblade, and the rifle she had in her hand. He had never seen a rifle like that before, he knew it had to be a special custom made one, likely outsourced from an arm's dealer.
"Sir, what are we going to do with her?" He pushed her over so she was lying on her stomach and pulled a pair of old handcuffs from his belt. He didn't like the silence on the other end of the radio. He secured her wrists and then turned her so she was on her back. He didn't want her to suffocate to death on the sand before they could find out why she was there at all.
The radio came to life after a few moments of unsettling silence. "Cuff her and bring her to interrogation. There has to be a mistake. Killjoys don't kill each other. They also don't break onto each other's turf. If she wanted something from us, she could've just walked in and asked." Agent Alpaca didn't want to argue over the radio with his leader but he had a feeling this woman was here to assassinate him. That was one of his friend's flaws; he trusted just about everyone until it bit him in the ass. That's why he refused to let him go around alone. If it weren't for him, Tiger would be dead numerous times over.
He reached down and picked up the woman. He would carry her through the desert and back to the center of the zone where he would bring her down into the underground bunker where they would usually only interrogate the Dracs that they captured in hopes of finding where they kept the orphans they stole from the streets of Battery City in the night. That's where they would get to the bottom of this woman's identity.
Her head was pounding and aching. She could feel the swelling on her forehead from where she had been hit. Groaning in discomfort she opened her eyes and could barely see through the left one due to the swelling from the wound. It burned from the blood that had leaked into it while she had been unconscious. She saw a beat up metallic table in front of her and sitting on the other end were two men, both who were looking at her with solemn expressions. The one she recognized from the fur on his coat as the man who had taken her down the other she had never seen before. She made an attempt to stand up and found her feet were tied to the chair she sat in and her hands were cuffed behind her, the chain looped through the decorative back of the chair. She thrashed for a moment in an attempt to get out of her bonds but found it useless and quickly gave up to save her energy.
Her head was swimming and the more she shook around the worse her vision became. She stared at the table in front of her once more. She'd been in this situation before she just never thought the people on the other side of the table would be Killjoys.
"You came here to murder the leader of the west faction of Killjoys, did you not?" Agent Alpaca asked her calmly but his face was stern and agitated. She could tell that he was ready to execute her but something was preventing him from doing what he wished. She lifted her gaze from the men at the table interrogating her and saw that Tiger Beatdown was leaning against the wall behind them, watching the interrogation take place. He wasn't looking at her but more watching his men's actions. She guessed he was the reason that they weren't beating the crap out of her.
"Hey, look at me." She brought her attention back to Agent Alpaca as he slammed his fists down on the table in front of her. "Did you or did you not come to kill Tiger Beatdown?"
She just stared at him blankly. She wasn't going to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing what she was doing here. She may not have agreed that he needed to be killed but she was loyal to the east and she wouldn't be telling any of these men anything they desired to know.
"How'd you get such a sophisticated weapon?" Agent Alpaca lifted the gun from where it was leaning against his seat and placed it in front of her on the table. He'd flipped the safety on in case she found some way to manage to grab it. He wasn't taking any chances. She had knocked out multiple guards and he didn't know what she was capable of.
"She's not answering." The man seated next to him didn't pull his gaze away from her either. She merely cocked her head to the side and looked at them curiously. She was waiting for them to just execute her or punish her already. There was no way she was going to let them know that Party Poison had sent her.
"She will answer when we start cutting off her damn fingers." Agent Alpaca stood and approached the other side of the table so that he could bring life to his threat.
"Why didn't you kill me when you had the chance?" Agent Alpaca froze as Tiger Beatdown interrupted. He didn't move from his spot at the back of the room, but did raise his head to look at her. She looked like she might be having a hard time dealing with the wound on her face. He didn't think this approach was going to get them anywhere. She could even be suffering from a concussion. It was possible she wasn't capable of giving them any answers at all.
"Sir, she's not going to answer you. There's no point trying to reason with her." Agent Alpaca turned back to look at Tiger.
"Quiet Alpaca. Miss, why didn't you kill me when you had the chance? You must have had the opportunity. I let my guard down, I wasn't even wearing my helmet and we could barely see ten feet out with all the dust in the air. I should've been more cautious." Disco Bitch watched him warily. There was no harm in answering this question, since it had been the one that had been plaguing her since she had put down the gun in the first place out in the desert.
"I was told that you had committed crimes against the Killjoys that made you worthy of my gun. You have been shipping orphans off to the Dracs. Or at least that's what I was told you were doing." She answered, void of emotion, she didn't want anyone to know how this was plaguing her. She had already said more than she had vowed she would. "I had my shot but you were feeding children. You were feeding them with the food we'd collected from the raids earlier in the week
why would you be sharing your personal store if you were just going to ship these kids off? You were helping them build a shelter to hide from the storm too. I decided as I held the gun on you that the men who passed judgment on you in the first place had to have been mistaken."
The room was silent for a few moments as they contemplated what she had said. Agent Alpaca hadn't expected her to respond at all, but he didn't buy her story. Tiger just stared at her from across the room. He looked over at his men and spoke. "Alpaca, Lucky? You're free to go. Go make sure the doors are locked before the acid storm starts. I can take it from here."
"Tiger, I strongly advise against this, this woman has tried to kill you! She left five men unconscious on her way here
"I know what I'm doing. You're dismissed." Tiger Beatdown walked over to the table and sat down where Alpaca had once been sitting. He waited until he heard the sound of the door closing behind them. There was something about this woman who sat across from him that intrigued him. It wasn't her pretty blue eyes that were drawing him in, it was something more. He didn't think she would attack him. She seemed as confused about the situation as he was and he'd get to the bottom of it, even if it meant sparing her.