Kids N' Vigs

Tales of the Interstate

Moderator: Redline Fox

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Kids N' Vigs

Post by Fnork » Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:03 pm

Redline and I will be posting the rest of our joint story, Kids N' Vigs in this thread. Feel free to post comments in between chapters, but keep in mind that if they get off topic they will be deleted.

For those of you that missed it on the old TBR, or simply want to review what had already been posted, here it is:


August 12th, 1986

With one hand leaning against the glass door of a refrigerator, Redline Fox pushed his face against the other one in front of him. Its surface frosted over from the temperature difference of its cool sealed air and the luke-warm air that wheezed out of the general store?s air conditioner. Eyeing the object of his desire on the other side of the glass, Redline opened the door quickly. He then moved as much of his body as he could possibly get inside while letting the door prop itself up against his back. He let out an exaggerated sigh as he took in a deep breath of the cold air. For a few short moments he imagined himself in his own little personal cave of coolness.
?Redline what the hell are you doing to my beverage selection!?? Dante, the store?s owner yelled.
Not willing to give up his temporary slice of heaven just yet, Redline Fox simply ignored his berating. It could only be temporary, after all he did have appointments to keep, and he didn?t have the money to pay for repairing the fridge if he managed to break it. Reluctantly, he took a small carton of milk in hand while shutting the door. As he made his way to the counter he snatched a few packs of various cookies from the racks.
Dante leaned against the counter as Redline Fox placed the items in front of him. He raised his eyebrow at the sweet selections.
?Pack of Cigarettes too.? Redline said plainly.
Dante took in a perplexed breath,
?Cookies and smokes, whatever you want Redline...? he said as he searched under the counter for the usual.
A rather stuck up looking man in a shabby suit standing next to the counter gave Redline Fox a long look as he was taking a pack of matches from the free box. Redline knew he was being stared at but ignored the man.
The suit piped up,
?You know smoking is bad for you,? he said rather obnoxiously.
Dante stopped in the middle of standing up. The suit obviously expected a reply.
?Stress is also bad for you, now get the hell away from me.? Redline Fox said in an annoyed tone.
The suit couldn?t take a hint.
?Hey, if you want to kill yourself that?s just fine with me, but why don?t you take a look at some of these photos I got here...?
The Suit presented a briefcase while he babbled on.
Dante was getting as irritated as Redline Fox but wasn?t sure what to do about the situation. He rang up Redline?s items as the Suit fumbled through his briefcase. Redline paid for his food, then quickly smacked the suit with the back of his hand. Not too hard, but just enough to get his attention. The suit immediately stopped talking.
?You are causing me unneeded stress, please get away from me before I have to throw your body in the trunk of my Piranha.?
Redline emphasized his car hoping the fool would get the point. Apparently the suit wasn?t as thick headed as the two other men though, without a word he packed up his briefcase, tipped his hat and ran almost full tilt to the parking lot.
?What a prick, a real shame though that a vigilante seems to scare some people so much, especially when we are sometimes their only line of defense.?
Redline smirked,
?Well, some of us are just so ugly I?m not surprised.?
Dante folded his arms across his chest.
?Ha, remember he ran away from your ugly mug not mine.? Dante said.
Redline Fox laughed to himself a little. ?Touch?.?
Dante leaned back on the counter as Redline Fox lit a cigarette, taking a conservative puff.
?So, you hear about Ride as of late, seems he is doing real well for himself...settling down with a family and all.? Dante said half in passing.
A tinge of past regret flashed across Redline?s thoughts. Redline Fox responded slowly, ?Well, that?s fine for some people I guess...I don?t really like kids that much, not the kind of responsibility I want.?
?You?ll probably change your mind someday man, you?re still a young guy.?
Redline Fox sighed, ?Already too old though, I think, besides the world is too messed up, I don?t want to raise any kids in a world like this.?
?Yeah...maybe...time will tell.?
Redline said as he moved towards the door, ?Take it easy Dante.?
Dante decided to start cleaning up the floor, and as he took mop and bucket in hand he yelled to Redline.
?I?m not even supposed to be here today, damn DP hasn?t...up to work...week.?
The last few bits where not audible as Redline Fox walked out into the baking afternoon sun. He puffed on the cigarette a few more times while making his way to his blood red Picard Piranha. He usually wouldn?t leave the windows down, but it was so hot he just didn?t care. With not much thought he dropped the paper bag containing the still chilled milk along with his cookies into the driver?s seat. He had found a beach towel with a fox face sewn on in the previous town?s flea market; and it was now employed to keep the hot black leather seat from burning his ass every time he sat down in it.
With smooth motions he put the almost done cigarette in his mouth and slid into the driver?s seat. A quick glance into the passenger?s seat caused him enough of a start to motivate him back out of the car. He opened the driver?s side door, stood up, then sat back down while looking into the passenger?s seat. Sitting there with seat-belt on was a small child, who from what he could tell was not more then four or five years old. Redline Fox stared back with the same bewildered blank expression that the small child held in her blue-green eyes. Her hair was a light, brown color, and there was a note in her hands, hands that where a little more dirty then would be desirable even for a little kid. Redline took the note out of her hands very gingerly, the child?s expression did not change as he looked her over while unfolding the note. It read ?in one hand I hold a gun?? Redline noticed that there was a small arrow at the bottom directing him to flip it over. He wasn?t sure if this was some kind of game or what as he read the rest. ??In the other, someone to protect.? It was half understanding, half confusion on his part. Was it because he was a vigilante, did this child?s parents think he could protect her? Redline was not very sure of what to do. The child?s eyes where on the paper bag; he looked down at the bag as well.

?Uhh...hey, you want something to eat?? Redline asked calmly.
The child?s expression didn?t change but she shook her head in a ?yes? motion.
?Ok, uh...well...I got some milk here.?
He took out the carton and shook it,
?And cookies, I guess it?s not the best meal but...uh...?
Redline Fox opened the cartoon of milk and put the paper bag down on the child?s lap, then the cookie bag on top of that.
?Uh...try not to get crumbs in Redline realized he was still smoking his cigarette. Quickly he snatched it out of his mouth, singing his finger.
?You shouldn?t smoke, smoke is bad for you...OK...Ugh...wait right here OK? Redline said quickly, still trying to stay calm.
Kicking her feet slowly up and down, she drank some of the milk. She gave a slight smile as she bit into one of the cookies.
?Err...don?t go anywhere OK kid...??, Redline said as he got out of the car.
She nodded at him. Redline Fox had a hundred thoughts racing through his head as well as an ever increasing sense of anxiety in his chest.

***********Chapter 2*************

?I?ll be damned Redline.? Dante said as he read the note.
Dante leaned against the Piranha and poked his head into the window.
?Hey there sweety, where?s your parents at huh?? Dante attempted to coax a reply.
Not showing any signs of talking, she simply sat with her hands folded looking out of the car at him.
Redline Fox, ?This is crazy, who would just leave their kid in a weapon laden car.?
?It?s a messed up world remember.? Dante said flatly.
Conceding to him that point, Redline put his hands over his face and rubbed his eyes.
Off in the distance a rumbling drone was approaching the general store. It was immediately apparent of to what the sound was for Dante, his special customers.
Dante spoke sternly, ?You better get going, here take these.?
He handed Redline an overnight bag. It was filled with children?s clothing.
?Problem?? Redline Fox asked.
Dante shook his head, ?Maybe, depends if the biker?s are tanked up already or not. If not I?ll just give him a few cases of beer and they will love me for the rest of the month. Be surprised how useful people like that can be if they are loyal. Not a place for your new friend though.?
Obviously Dante was right, at least something was clear at the moment.
?Alright Dante, be careful...? Redline said.
Dante smirked, ?I know how to handle them, everything will be fine. You?re the one that needs to take extra care, now get going.?
Both vigs shook hands firmly; a way of saying that they had each other?s back, Redline Fox quickly threw the bag into the backseat, climbed into his car, and backed out of the parking lot. He pointed the car in the opposite direction of the biker?s then took off down the road. The Piranha?s speedometer steadily raised, the powerful car increasing in speed as it barreled down the empty highway. Every now and then he would dare a glance at the kid who had come from nowhere, and was seemingly now his responsibility?At least until he could find a decent orphanage.
?So uh?What?s your name?? he stammered, obviously a bit unnerved by having a child just dropped into his life. The child looked up at Redline from her seat on the passenger side, big blue-green eyes shimmering in the midday sun. Glancing over again Fox asked,
?Well? Do you have a name??
She just sat there, staring at him, head cocked to one side. ?Oh well, so much for idle conversation? he thought. He flipped on the radio and they both sat silently listening to the news reporter on the radio. More reports on economic depression, and the gas crisis. Pavement moved endlessly underneath the car, and Redline was able to forget about the kid for awhile. Suddenly the radio died, and Redline turned his head to see the kid had just flipped the switch.
?Don?t like the radio, huh kid??
She shook her head once and just went back to looking at him.
?Err? Something you want kid?? asked Redline.
The girl nodded her head once and looked down at the floor. Still not quite understanding Redline continued
?Well? what is it??
He thought he heard her mutter something? but Fox couldn?t quite make it out. ?What was that??
Looking up again at Redline she replied, a bit louder this time
Redline was a bit stunned by this at first and didn?t know quite what to say, so he just kept on driving for a moment.
?Ugh? Like now?? said Redline, the kid just nodded her head.
Shaking his head Redline pushed down on the accelerator. There was a gas stop and restaurant coming up soon anyway. The car could use some gas, and he could use some food? and she could use the bathroom.
?Can you hold it for a couple of minutes? We will be at a bathroom soon.? He told her.
Redline glanced over and noticed that the child had already crossed her legs, and they seemed to be shaking.
?Oh no you don?t.? he said to himself, as his foot pressed down on the gas again. The Piranha picked up speed again; he was pushing 70mph in a 55 zone on bingo fuel. Redline kept glancing over at the kid, worried that she might ?burst? at any moment, and that would not be good for his car. She started to squirm more and more. Just when he thought she was going to explode, the Wagon Wheel and Gas 4 Cash came into sight. The Piranha ripped into the parking lot and pulled up as close to the bathrooms as possible.
Redline hopped out and ran around to the passenger side, opening the door and helping the child out. She hurried towards the bathroom doors in an odd limp-like jog, all the while holding her lower belly. Redline quickly walked over to her and nodded towards the bathroom.
?I?ll wait here, don?t worry.?
The child looked up at him and shook her head. She reached out and grabbed his hand.
?Oh?Oooh, no uh, sorry kid...? Redline said, taking a step back.
Stomping her feet, she tried to pull Redline towards the bathroom.
?Look, I?m not gonna do it ok? I?m sorry.?
She let go of her hands and put her hands to her face. Redline was about to speak, when she looked back up at him, tears in her eyes.
?I don?t wanna get left behind again.? Lips trembling, tears started to roll down her cheeks.
Jaw dropped, Redline just stared back at the crying child.
?Oh? no kid, I wasn?t going to leave, I promise.?
She stopped crying and looked at him for a moment, before reaching for his hand again. Redline took her tiny hand, in his what seemed to be giant hand now, and led her towards the bathroom. He pushed open the door to the ?Men's? bathroom and started to go forward, but he turned around to see that the girl had stopped.
She looked at the bathroom and shook her head.
?This one.? She told him as she headed for the ladies washroom.
Redline?s face changed to an expression of horror.
?Whoa, not so fast there?I can?t go in there. We can use the men?s bathroom, don?t worry.?
Once again her lip started trembling, and she tugged on his hand. Before he knew it Redline was halfway in the door to the ladies? restroom. With his head through the doorway, he called out,
?Uhh? Is anyone in here? I err? have a child?who needs to use the bathroom, and she won?t use the?uh?men?s washroom. So I'm uh, coming in.?
Redline slowly walked in, with the child incessantly tugging on his hand for him to hurry up. She went into the first stall, and Redline let out a sigh of relief. The bathroom was empty. Minute by painstaking minute ticked by, and Fox just stood there for what seemed like an eternity. Just to pass the time he had washed his hands five times. Just as he was about to go back for a sixth washing a distinct click-clack of high heels could be heard on the tiles of the bathroom floor. Redline's Heart leaped up into his throat as he whirled around, red faced, to find a now startled, plump, middle age woman staring at him. Fox was at a loss for words and just stood there blushing furiously. The woman, picking up quite obviously on his embarrassment, broke the awkward silence, "Pardon me, sir.. but am I in the wrong bathroom?"
Quietly Fox managed to say "Uh no... I?m here with uh well my... little girl... She didn't want to go into the men's washroom you see..."
A smile slowly spread across the woman?s face until she was grinning like an idiot. "Well isn't that just darling. What's her name?"
Before even thinking about it "Jade" rolled off of Redline's tongue.
"What a beautiful name." The flushing of a toilet cut the lady short.
'Jade' Emerged from the stall and looked up at the woman, staring and saying nothing.
The lady looked down at Jade and then gave a distasteful look towards Redline. She took her by the hand and washed her up in the sink Redline quickly thanked the lady and made a hasty retreat. Redline let out a sigh and walked towards the door.
Once they were outside, Redline could feel his stomach grumbling. She had eaten all his cookies, and drank his milk. ?Well kid? I?m about as hungry as it gets, so I?m going to get some supper. You coming?? She nodded her head and they headed towards the diner.

************Chapter 3*************

Several miles away, black fuzzy dice swayed from the rearview mirror of a jet-black van, .50 slugs rolled around on the dashboard. Hands gloved in fingerless leathers gripped the custom chrome chain steering wheel. A cigarette held in the fingers wafted a thin smoke. Raised to parched lips it gave one more long drag, then was jammed into an ashtray, extinguishing any spark of life that had remained. Reflective aviators glinted in the sun, flanked on both sides by long, locks of curly hair that flowed down past tanned shoulders. Three necklaces: a silver cross, a skull with crossed guitars beneath it and a length of steel chain held together by a small padlock, all of them hanging against the background of a tight sleeveless shirt adorned with a chaotic pattern of skulls n? cross bones. From the ends of the shirt protruded strong arms, not so bulky as they were toned. All the way down the left arm was a large, intricate tattoo of a rattlesnake that ended on the hand with the head of the rattler, mouth open and fangs beared. On the right shoulder, an ornate cross with skulls on the ends and in the center, below that, just above the elbow, a top-hatted skull wreathed in barbwire with two revolvers crossed behind it. From the elbow to the wrist, another intricate tattoo of a snake; a cobra, the coils of it?s body on the wrist with it?s hooded head extended up to the elbow, this one also appeared to be in a striking position. Around the waist, a belt with rows of shiny, pyramid-like spikes worn loosely around some black leather riding pants that culminated in a pair of high, leather boots with straps around the ankle. By no matter of irony, the man to whom all of this belonged, was named Snake.

Snake?s black Phaedra Street Van sped down the two-lane blacktop. It was a custom job; equipped with black racing-style rims, chrome-edged fender flares, a spade-shaped dome window built into each side, tinted windows, a custom chrome grille, ground effects, extra-wide tires in the back and Snake?s favorite addition, the regular shift knob had been replaced with a chrome skull whose eyes flashed red every time the van changed gears. Snake?s watch told him that it was almost seven o?clock and he was hungry.
Several miles down the road was a restaurant, The Wagon Wheel. A place where someone could relax, eat something and forget the stresses of auto-vigilantism. Not the best restaurant around, but it held sentimental value to many vigilantes, most of whom had saved it from destruction by creeper raids at one point or another. The buildings appeared in the distance, merely specks, but were expanding rapidly.
When Snake pulled into the lot, there was only one armed car he could see immediately, a blood red Piranha. He didn?t realize it at first, but then it clicked. The car belonged to Redline Fox; a well-known vigilante in the area and a close friend of Snake?s. He grabbed his keys from the ignition, and stepped out of his van. Near the service entrance of the restaurant he noticed two identical Clydesdales, and both were heavily armed. But with the demand for tighter and tighter security these days, he assumed that a private security firm owned them. The door chimed as he walked in, his bootstraps ?clinking? with each step, and he scanned the booths probing for Redline?s face. He spotted it in a booth near a window.
Merely looking over the menu made Redline?s stomach growl fiercely. The waitress came over and he ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with fries, and an extra fatty grease filled hamburger. The waitress gave him a little wink and turned towards the girl.
?What do you want, pumpkin??
She pointed to something on her menu, and the waitress nodded her head and walked away. Redline looked across the table at her and thought for a moment. ?So??, as he began to speak another voice cut in.
?Hey Red??
Snake stopped dead in mid-sentence, surprised beyond belief at what, or more correctly who, was sitting next to Redline in the booth. A little brown-haired girl who Snake figured couldn?t have been more then six years old.
At the sound of Snake?s voice, Redline turned to see who had attempted to address him. Upon recognition of his old friend, Redline quickly got to his feet, grabbed Snake?s limp hand and gave it a firm shake.
?So where?ve you been, man??
Snake?s reply was mumbled and distracted.
?Oh?uh, I went back to?umm?Hollywood for a few months to?ah?catch up with some people??
Redline couldn?t help but notice Snake?s eyes were solidly transfixed on his new friend.
?Hey Snake, let?s take a walk, okay??
?Uhhh?ya, right?walk.?
Redline turned back to his charge, who was listening attentively to the whole dialogue.
?Stay here while I go talk to my friend, okay??
She smiled and nodded at him, then proceeded to grab a crayon and started working the maze on her place mat. Redline put an arm on Snake?s shoulder and led the stunned man out the front door. Once outside, Snake very rapidly became lucid again.
?Holy shit, man! You had a kid?!?
?Uh, not really??
?Whaddaya mean, ?not really?! This is as fuckin? black an? white as they come! Either she?s yours or she isn?t!
?She?s not my kid.?
?Fuck, man! Yours or not, you know what you do for a livin?, this is no place for some??
Redline slapped Snake with an open hand. He didn?t think he?d hit him that hard, but a resounding smack proved otherwise.
?Ow! What the fuck??
Redline interjected before Snake got really carried away. ?Snake, shut up and listen! I found her in my car earlier today, someone dumped her there with this note.?
Redline produced the note the child had been holding. Snake read the note; the perplexed look on his face clearly stated his confusion.
?Well, what the fuck does that mean??
?It means that someone thought that since I?m a vigilante I could protect from someone or something. But I?ll be damned if I know what.?
?Man, that?s fucked up. She got any parents or anythin? like that??
?Got no clue, she?s hardly said a damn thing since I found her. Don?t even know her name. Well sorta anyway... She calls herself Jade now.?
?Well from what I saw, she obviously understands English, and you say she can talk, so let?s see if we can coax it out of her.?
?Worth a shot, I guess.?
The duo went back inside. The waitress had delivered the meals and the girl was digging into a plate of chicken wings. Snake squatted down at the end of the booth and Redline took his seat opposite her. Snake quite apparently intimidated the girl and understandably so, she shied away from him, sliding towards the window. Snake was not discouraged by this and tired to strike up a conversation.
?Hey there, my friend was wonderin? what your name is. If ya don?t want to tell him, that?s just fine. Would ya like to tell me your name??
The girl shook her head side-to-side defiantly and frowned. Redline sighed and mumbled something inaudible under his breath. Snake spoke to Redline.
?Hey, relax man, I got an idea.?
?OK?say, how about we swap names. I?ll tell you mine and you tell me yours, that sound good to you??
She stared at him for a moment, contemplating the idea. Finally, she nodded in concurrence.
?Alright, I?ll go first, my name?s Snake.?
As Snake spoke he pointed out his rattlesnake tattoo. She giggled at the sight of it.
?Now it?s your turn, what?s your name??
She looked at Snake and Redline with an uneasy glance, then in a timid, little voice, she produced the name.
?Well, it?s very nice to meet you, Jade.?
With that Snake sat down in the booth next to her. By now, Redline had wolfed down almost all of his meal.
"Now what, man??
Redline?s reply was obscured by great globs of half-chewed beef and bun.
Redline swallowed and repeated.
?Ask her about her parents.?
Snake turned back to Jade, who was now enthralled with the various tattoos on his arm.
?Jade, do ya know where your parents are??
She shook her head and continued to stare at the intricate designs on Snake?s arm.
?Hmmm, I?ll tell ya what, Jade. You can look at my tattoos all ya want if ya tell us where your parents are.?
She struggled with what she was trying to say.
?Umm?daddy got hurt, but mommy said he?ll be OK?Then mommy said we have to go away?uhh?she gave me a note to hold and said to wait in the red car. Mommy said she would come and get me in a few days??
She trailed off. Then looked straight up at Snake, he was amazed by her big, blue-green eyes. They were really rather beautiful and he found himself looking deeper and deeper into them. She spoke again.
?Daddy had a friend named Cobra... They used to go driving around at night time... But Mommy never let me go with him... ?
Snake shot a quick look at Redline, that was important and they both knew it. Snake looked at Jade hoping to get something else out of her, but her eyes had started to wander about. Suddenly she cringed and let out a small whimper, she grabbed his shirt and pulled herself right next to him. He thought it was a rather bold thing to do until he saw the expression of terror on her face.

***********Chapter 4***************

?What is it? What?s wrong??
She pointed towards the bar, Snake immediately noticed a man dressed in tan slacks, a long-sleeved button-up shirt and tie, who was staring right at them. As soon as Snake made eye contact with him, the man turned away. The waitress walked by again and put the bill on the table, Redline picked it up and grumbled something about it being too expensive, but forked over the cash. Snake very subtlety pulled out his .50 Magnum and checked how many bullets were in the clip; it was full. The pistol was a large, silver-plated semi-automatic. The .50 caliber round it used was capable of shooting through a 2-inch steel door and still maintain enough velocity to go clean through someone?s torso. Snake knew this from a personal experience at his home in West Hollywood. He didn?t want to have a gunfight in the restaurant, too many normals around, but if this guy took a shot at them he wanted to be ready to take him down. Redline noticed Snake checking his rounds.
?Hey, man, what?s up??
Snake nodded towards the bar.
?The dude at the bar in the tie, he?s been starin? at us, Jade in particular.
?Hmmm, maybe we better get ought to get out of here.?
Redline pulled out his 9mm Beretta and checked the ammo under the table, then turned to Jade.
?Are you done, Jade??
She nodded.
?Well, it?s time to go, we?re going to find a place to stay tonight.?
Both men put their pistols in their belts and covered them with their shirts. Both of them knew that waving a gun around in a public place is not a great idea at even the worst of times. Snake got out of the booth, Jade followed suit, then took hold of Redline?s outstretched hand. The man at the bar didn?t pay much attention as the three of them walked out the front door. They were almost to their cars when Redline saw the man running towards them, with a large smile on his face.
?Howdy there, Stranger!? said the man loudly as he approached them.
The man stood in front of Redline, with Snake to his left. Redline nudged Jade behind himself and spoke to the respectable-looking man. ?Who are you?? Redline inquired.
?Name?s Jake. I see you found my girl,?
A look of terrible sadness swept across the man?s face.
?She was kidnapped four days ago, and I?ve been looking for her ever since. I?m so glad you found her, words cannot express the joy in my heart. I would do anything to pay you back. I was offering a reward of $50,000 to the person that found her, it?s yours if you want it.?
A sigh of relief escaped Redline?s lips, he relaxed a little. However, Snake remained suspicious, Jade was still hiding behind Redline. ?If he really was her father she would have run up to him with open arms?, thought Snake. Redline now spoke to the man in a much friendlier tone.
?I?m so glad I found her parents, it?s not safe out here for a child. Here, just let me get her stuff would ya? Where are you parked??
The man responded joyfully,
?Great, I can take her from here. We are just parked over there.?
Jake gestured with a nod of the head.
Redline already had his head inside the car and didn?t care to look, fumbling about in the back for the bag of clothes Dante had given him for her to wear. Snake looked in the direction that Jake had nodded. Three men stood in the shadow of the restaurant, beside the heavily armed Clydesdales. Redline spoke from inside the car,
?Well, alright then?just a second I know I have a bag of her stuff in the back??
Snake made a decision; he grabbed his gun by the barrel and pistol-whipped Jake in the side of the head, and Jake went down hard. Redline pulled his head out of the car and his pistol was already blazing, shots fired towards the men in the dark. When his clip was empty Redline grabbed Jade from the ground where she had crumpled into a little ball quivering in fear, and gently tossed her into the passenger side of his Piranha. Fox jumped across the hood, as a hail of bullets crashed about him, shattering the passenger side window. He quickly dove into the driver seat, flipped the ignition, and the engine exploded to life.
Snake was still returning fire, his Magnum booming thunderously with each shot. One man took a round in the chest; blood and flesh flew from the exit wound as he fell to the ground.
The shattered passenger window was in hundreds of tiny particles that had showered over Jade as she wrapped her arms around her head. Redline shouted to her, ?Jade! Stay down!?
Redline sat up straight to return fire, a bullet cracked off the roof, missing his head by a distance that he didn?t care speculate, so close he could feel its heat as it ripped through the air past him. He ducked down close to the wheel.. More bullets struck the passenger door and whistled through the windshield, leaving large holes in glass surrounded by spidery cracks. This was too dangerous; they were putting Jade at risk. Snake was now on the other side of his van, firing across the hood. Redline shouted over to him.
?Snake, we gotta get out of here, Jade?s gonna get hurt!?
?Right, man, let?s roll!!?
Snake jumped behind the wheel and slammed shut the door of his van in a fluid motion that only experience could perfect, his engines roared to life in unison. Snake?s tires spun and squealed, then grabbed the asphalt, vaulting the van over the concrete parking stop; he fishtailed across the adjoining lot of the Gas 4 Cash and onto the highway. Redline peeled out in reverse, halfway across the parking lot he pulled the hand brake and jerked the wheel hard. The Piranha responded by spinning about back to front, then with lightning fast reflexes, Redline shifted into first and pushed the accelerator to the floor. The tires screamed against the massive flow of torque as they thrusted forward. Bullets ricocheted off the bodywork with an incessant ?ting? sound. Redline pulled the wheel to the right until it locked up, pinning himself and Jade against the side of the car as it swung out of the lot, tires still smoking as Redline burned the rubber off them. Another bullet shattered the rear window. He straightened out the wheel and gunned the Piranha down the highway after Snake?s van. Fleeing was not something he was used to. However, he couldn?t risk a fight while Jade was with him. If anything were to happen to her he wouldn?t be able to forgive himself. Looking down he saw that she was sobbing quietly in her seat.
?Its OK now, Jade?He?s gone, you won?t have to worry about him anymore.?

*******Chapter 5********

Those blue-green eyes looked back at him, now wet with tears. Some sort of paternal instinct kicked in and he reached over, wiping a tear off her cheek, while trying to pay attention to the road.
?It?s getting pretty late now, we should find a place to spend the night. Could you get the map out from the glove department??
Quiet as usual, Jade complied and went digging through the mess Redline had left in there until she found the map he wanted. Redline grabbed the CB microphone.
?Breaker, breaker, this is Redline Fox, come in Hollywood.?
Snake responded.
?Roger, Redline Fox, this is Hollywood, come back.?
?Where?re we gonna go, man? Over.?
?I was thinkin? about the safe house off I-79, we?re 20 miles out now, could be there in 10-15 if we hustle. Over.?
?Alright, sounds like a plan. Redline Fox, over and out.?
Redline hung up the microphone and looked over at Jade. She was staring at him with an expression of questioning.
?It?s gonna be alright now, we?re going to a safe house, no can get at you there.?
?What about my mommy??
?Don?t worry, we?re going to find your Mom, I promise.?
Redline was not one to throw around promises, but when he made one he kept it, no matter what.
Fourteen minutes later, Redline pulled into a small parking lot, flanked on three sides by reasonably large buildings with garage doors. The ten-foot iron gate slammed shut behind them, locking into place. The sign on the gate had fallen victim to the test of time and was no longer legible. It had once read ?U-Truck Storage Lockers?. Ten-foot iron fences, topped with razor wire surrounded the whole compound. Security cameras sat on the corners of the buildings, a green utility van sat in the lot beside one of the buildings, a small dish on top of it rotated consistently, sending out its radar signal while thick cables running out of the van channeled the information inside. Redline honked his horn, several seconds later one of the garage doors opened. Florescent light flooded from the doorway, illuminating the small lot. Redline pulled in, put the ?Ranha in park and killed the engine. As he got out, a familiar and very welcome face appeared in front of him. None other than Owen, they had been friends since the start of the auto-felon crime wave. There was not a soul on the planet that Redline trusted more than Owen. Redline stuck out a hand, Owen grabbed it and pulled him into a hug. He felt like crying, there was no one who would make him happier to see. Once Owen released his hug, he stood back and spoke.
?It?s been too long, man. Snake filled me in. Where is she??
?In the passenger seat, fast asleep, must be dirt tired.?
?Let?s get her into a bed.?
Owen walked around to the other side of the car and opened the door. Jade was curled up, sleeping soundly. He picked her up ever so gently; she seemed like a newborn child compared to Owen, standing 6? 5?. He carried her into the main room, with Redline in tow. Snake was seated at table with the CB and radar equipment in front of him. He got to his feet as they walked in.
?How is she??
?She?s fine, just tired, that?s all.?
?Good, I haven?t had a single blip except for you since I got in, we must?ve lost ?em. I made up a bed for her, it?s in the back room.?
?Great, thanks man.?
?I?ll cover watch until 3:00am, then Owen, you take over for me until dawn.?
?You got it, Snake.?
Owen carried Jade into the back room and laid her down on the foldout cot Snake had setup. Redline put a sheet over her and a pillow under her head. Owen plugged in a nightlight near the bed. Then switched off the lights as they both left the room; Redline closed the door behind him. In a soft voice he spoke to the other two men.
?That?s one tough kid.?
?Ya, she is,? replied Snake.
?What are we going to do with her?? Snake shook his head wearily.
?I don?t know, man, I just don?t know?but you two ought to get some sleep, we?ll figure it out tomorrow.?
?Alright man.?
?I?ll wake you up at 3:00, there?s Coke in the ?fridge if you?ll need it.?
?Ok, thanks.?
Redline and Owen both retired to their quarters, leaving Snake with a radar screen, a pack of cigarettes and half a bottle of Jack Daniel?s. It was unusually cold for an August night in the desert. A native of California, Snake couldn?t stand cold, and after much rummaging about he finally found a blanket; it wasn?t much but at least it made the night watch bearable. The radar screen spinning, his watch hand spinning, radar bleeping, watch ticking. Bleep, tick, tick, tick, bleep, tick, tick, tick, bleep, tick, tick, tick, bleep?He couldn?t take it anymore, his watch read 1:47.
?Another fuckin? hour and 13 minutes of this shit,? Snake thought aloud.

It took all his strength and willpower not to fall asleep in the remainder of his shift. Two trucks doing graveyard runs had sped past, but that was it. He wasn?t used to so much nothingness; maybe it had to do with the fact they were in the middle of nowhere. None of them even knew the exact location of the safe house, just one of those things that gets passed on. They were somewhere in Arizona, close to the Nevada border. Snake didn?t know how long he had been up, but a quick check of his watch told him it was 3:04. Wrought with sleep deprivation he shuffled into Owen?s room. Snake leaned over Owen and gave him a shake, hardly after Snake touched the sleeping man there was a flurry of motion and before he knew it there was a .45 being shoved against his forehead. Owen relaxed the gun once he realized who it was.
?Jesus Christ, Snake. You ever heard of just telling someone to get up?? Snake?s reply was muffled and almost incoherent.
?Sorry, man. You?re on shift?? He trailed off, practically falling asleep in mid-sentence.
Owen spoke softly as he helped Snake into the bed.
?Thanks, man. Sleep well.?
The only response was Snake?s deep, nasal snoring.

Owen grabbed a dark blue bowling shirt he had thrown on the floor, noticed that his patch was coming off the shoulder. He had sewn a Canadian flag patch to the shoulders of some of his clothes, just a matter of pride he told anyone who asked . He walked out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him. He took his seat in front of the radar equipment, now what was he going to do until the others woke up? An idea struck him and took several quarters from his pocket then grabbed a plastic cup.

********Chapter 6**********

As the tedium of watching an empty road and the repetitive clicking of the quarters on the table started to wear away at his senses, his mind began to wander. He couldn?t help but think about how much things had changed in the past few years. In fact, the events in Las Vegas just over two years ago are what changed everything.
It was the last time so many creepers had been organized into a single army. Since that time, they had all scattered to their own territories and gangs, and the time they didn?t spend making small raids into Vigilante-controlled areas, they spent warring with each other. There were several different leaders that each thought themselves to be the rightful successor to The Wraith, but none had managed to do anything more than piss the other leaders off.
But the change that really intrigued Owen, was how much his close friend Redline Fox had changed. A mere three years ago, he was a loner that avoided associating with anyone aside from his sometime partner The Professional, and on rare occasions, Owen. He always fought the good fight, but many other vigilantes questioned his true motives. All but Owen, that is. Owen was one of the few that not only counted Redline as an ally, but as a friend too. The times they worked together were few and far between, but something had always connected them, almost as if they were brothers.
And now, after all that time spent as a loner, here was Redline actively seeking out help from allies, and on top of that, he was caring for a small child. Both things that seemed completely out of character for him, that is, at least until Vegas.

Everything could be traced back to Vegas.

After DIRM had been taken to the hospital, the rest of the group, CADman, Ace English, Shamus, Azz, Fnork, and Owen had gone out in small groups to survey the battle scenes and look for any survivors. The remains of The Professional?s Clydesdale and Redline?s Piranha had been found almost immediately, and both drivers were laid to rest a few days later. It wasn?t until just after the funeral that Owen was told that Redline?s coffin had been empty; his body had never been found. From that moment on, Owen had made it his all-consuming goal to find out what happened to Redline. He took on that quest with such fanaticism that almost everyone thought he had slipped into a state of madness. Truth be told, he wasn?t far off. When he wasn?t out searching hospitals, city morgues, and every nook and cranny his friend could possibly be, he was in his garage, painstakingly rebuilding the red Piranha from the ground up. Any time someone would question him why he was wasting so much time on the twisted wreckage, his answer was the same, ?Redline will want his car when he comes back.?
He restored that car to almost mint condition, but went out of his way to preserve the few battle scars that Redline himself had refused to fix as a matter of pride. Redline had a story for every one of those scratches, dents, and holes, and Owen had memorized every single one of them.
In what was a remarkable coincidence, the very day he put the finishing touches on the paintjob of the rebuilt Piranha, he stopped in to a small hospital in southern Nevada that he never even knew existed. In fact, he would have missed it completely if he hadn?t stopped by a small frontage road to watch the sunset and reflect on his life. He was in the middle of contemplating whether or not he should give up his seemingly hopeless quest, when he spotted a very old and almost unrecognizable ambulance turn onto a small side road up ahead in the distance. He almost didn?t follow it because he?d all but decided to give up, but at the last minute changed his mind and went to investigate anyway. Looking back, he was glad that he did. The small hospital it lead him to, if it could even be called that, was little more than a storage facility for John Doe coma patients that had been given little to no hope of ever waking up. Owen was absolutely shocked when he saw the battered, but still recognizable face of Redline Fox staring blankly up at the ceiling in one of the old beds. One of the orderlies told Owen that he had been found by a passing tourist inside a wrecked car, in the middle of a grisly battle scene. They?d thought he was dead from the bullet wound to his torso until they discovered that he was still breathing, but just barely. He was taken to a hospital in Reno and stabilized, but since no identification was found on him he was classified as a John Doe and moved into the coma ward. After a few weeks without waking or having anyone show up to identify him, he was moved to this small facility.
With Owen?s help, Redline was moved to a larger medical center a few miles from his current hideout. Owen visited him on a daily basis, but even then it took another two months before he finally regained consciousness. What finally brought him out was remarkable in and of itself. Owen had started driving the Piranha when he went to visit, and had made a habit of parking outside Redline?s window and revving the mighty V-8 engine to see if the sound might bring his friend back. Redline?s condition changed almost immediately, and less than a week later he was fully conscious, and almost ready to check out.
After learning all that Owen had done for him, Redline vowed to never again abandon his friends and allies like he had done so many times in the past. He owed a debt to Owen that he might never be able to repay, yet, somehow, that didn?t bother him one bit.

Owen, still staring out onto the darkened highway, smiled to himself. Sometimes it took that kind of dedication to bring someone back from the dead. And sometimes, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Redline?s demeanor quickly returned to how it had been before the incident, but even so, most of the apathy that had dominated his personality was gone. He still preferred to work alone, but was no longer appalled at the idea of calling for backup if he needed it. And he showed a great deal more sympathy towards ?normals? now too. Back then, he never would have taken in a child that needed help, but here he was, with a little girl named Jade?

He didn?t know how long his mind had been wandering, but sunlight was now starting to pour over the horizon. Against the orange background something was casting a large, black shadow that was reaching up close to the sparse cloud cover. He fumbled around the equipment table, Snake was such a pig, couldn?t he just try to keep this place clean. He found the object he desired under a half-empty bag of chips. Binoculars. He raised them to the horizon and focused in on the tall shadow. It was a column of thick, black smoke. He couldn?t range it to anything, but the sheer height of the plume led him to conclude that it had to be one hell of a big fire. He didn?t want to leave the safe house, but he had to check it out.
Snake opened his eyes slowly, everything was blurred, and as it came into focus he saw Owen standing over him.
?Uhh, what time is it??
?It?s quarter after six.?
?What!! I?ve got four more hours of sleep comin?. Fuck off!?
?Come on, man, there?s a fire out there, I need you to cover for me so I can check it out.?
?No fuckin? way!?
?I?ll buy you two packs of cigs and a sixxer of Budweiser.?
?Make it three packs and imported beer.?
?Alright, go check out your stupid, fuckin? fire, I?ll cover for ya.?
?Thanks man!?
Owen ran out to the garage as Snake struggled to get to his feet. The windows were down in his trademark pink Pan Am, so he grabbed the A pillar and slide in, landing in the driver?s seat with the kind of precision only practice could provide. He turned the keys in the ignition and basked in the throaty rumble as the engine came to life. He revved several times then took off, tooting the horn as he passed the window; he could vaguely see Snake flipping him the bird as he sped away.
With the speedometer reading 100mph, it seemed like he?d only left the safe house for a few seconds when he crested a hill and spotted the source of the fire. It was a Gas Palace, flames raging from the pumps and the station, reaching upwards at least 30 feet.
He skidded to a stop on the road in front of the inferno. As he got out of the car he was assaulted by the immense heat, as a backdraft blew out the front doors of the station forcing him to shield his face from scorching air. Over the roar of the flames he heard a familiar sound, the sound of his radar detecting a target. Owen ducked into his car, one enemy target closing fast. Suddenly the radar began beeping wildly as several more dots appeared on the screen.
?Oh shit!!?
He jumped back into his car and peeled away in the opposite direction of the advancing force. He looked back out of the rear windshield, through the heat haze he could make out 6 little dots and their respective dust trails, but there could be more of them in those trails.

*************Chapter 7**************

A fiery hot tracer streaked past the driver?s side window, and was followed by a series of dull thuds as live ammunition hammered into the back of the pink Pan-Am. Owen glanced at his rearview mirror and counted three creepers drifting in and out of view, each firing madly at him. From the sounds of projectiles hitting the aft armor plates, he estimated there were at least three more chasing him that he couldn?t see.
Owen hit the switch to activate the oil dropper and held it for a full two seconds. At nearly 90 mph he left a patch of oil over 250 feet long, bit it did little more than cause his pursuers to skid slightly and lose a little ground. He cursed when he saw that not only were the lead cars still within firing range, but now the low oil pressure light for his dropper was blinking too, meaning it was almost empty.
He fumbled for his radio and yelled into it for help. ?Mayday! Mayday! This is Owen, requesting immediate assistance east of the Gas Palace! I am under attack by a large pack of creepers and can?t hold out much longer! Mayday! Mayday!? He received only static as a reply. Either the creepers were jamming him somehow, or he was out of range of anyone that could possibly help. It was more likely the latter since he was heading farther and farther out into the desert, but at this point it no longer mattered. ?Shit?, he muttered to himself.
He swore again when he realized he was nearing the edge of a massive bluff overlooking a barren valley. He was rapidly running out of room, and there was no choice but to stand and fight. He was outnumbered at least 6 to 1 and knew it was a hopeless fight before it began. To no one in particular he said, ?Well, let?s see how many of these bastards I can take with me??

He yanked the emergency brake and spun the car sideways, smoothly dropping the transmission into reverse at precisely the right moment. He?d performed the maneuver countless times before so it was almost second nature to him, but this time the usual split-second over-revving of the engine was accompanied by a harsh grinding sound as the transmission slowly began to destroy itself. It still held for the moment so he focused entirely on the pack of creepers. As the nose of his car came about, he counted eight hostile cars, not the six he originally thought.
Owen immediately opened fire on the nearest car and tore apart the engine compartment with his bumper mounted machine guns. The rest of the creepers swerved out of his line of fire and began to circle back. A loud beeping echoed through the driver compartment telling Owen that a missile was being locked on. He flipped a switch for his magma karpoon so it would activate the instant it was fired rather than on impact, and gave a wicked grin. The beeping became a continuous tone, and a smoke trail streaked away from one of the attackers. He pressed the launch button for the karpoon and sent it at the nearest car. The missile immediately changed direction to chase the new target, and followed it right into the side of a beat-up brown Royale, which exploded into a ball of fire. He sent another magma karpoon out into the fray, and a second missile followed it into the front end of a Cavera. Five left.
He wasn?t escaping unscathed, but was fortunate that most of the creepers were using small caliber machine guns. Even so, there was now a steady plume of white smoke pouring out of his hood, and the engine was starting to miss. It was the most disheartening sound a vigilante could ever hear. His car was dying.
?Come on baby, hold together just a little longer?? Owen whispered to his car.
Another creeper, clearly inexperienced with combat, took a hit to his right front tire, spun out of control, and went careening off the edge of the bluff. Owen sent his final remaining magma karpoon at the bright orange Manta that was firing all the missiles. It missed to the side by mere inches, but by a stroke of luck the Manta loosed a missile at the same instant. The missile violently changed direction to follow the karpoon and slammed into the ground right next to the Manta. The resulting explosion sent the car cart-wheeling away in a ball of flame.
There were only three creepers left, but Owen had run out of luck. His transmission was now completely destroyed and the engine was giving little more than a weak cough. He had managed to get the car into neutral before the transmission went out entirely so he still had a little momentum to use before he was finished. The creepers saw his slowing as well, so they started to hang back rather than risk getting killed by a crippled car.
Owen grabbed his radio and called out to the creepers on the common channel ?What?s the matter? Are you guys afraid of something?? They didn?t respond, but didn?t fire back either. ?If that?s how it?s gonna be?? He turned his car towards the edge of the bluff, and used his final remaining moments to taunt them some more. ?I?m not going to give you bastards the satisfaction of killing me!? He leaned back in his seat and let go of the wheel. It was only a matter of seconds before he went sailing off the edge of the cliff and into oblivion.

Incredibly, one of the creepers rocketed up next to Owen with a shot of nitrous and rammed the front quarter panel of the pink car to prevent it from going over the edge. The pink Pan-Am ground to a halt about ten feet from the cliff, while the remaining three creepers came to a stop with their noses all pointed directly at Owen?s now dead car.
He sighed to himself, since he finally understood the purpose of the ambush.
They didn?t want to kill him. They wanted him alive.

**********Chapter 8***********

One of the creepers had stepped out of his car and was approaching on foot. He was carrying what looked an awful lot like an AK-47. In a last desperate attempt at salvation, Owen picked up his radio and gave one last call out on the emergency channel. ?Hello? Is anyone out there? I could really use some assistance out here? aww, screw it.? He knew that even if someone could hear him, they?d never be able to reach him in time.
Much to his surprise, he actually got a reply this time. ?Reading you loud and clear Owen, help is on the way.?
Owen was speechless for a second, since was wasn?t expecting anything but static. ?It?s about time someone answered? not like it matters now.? He realized that he didn?t recognize the voice, yet there was something familiar about it. ? Who the hell is this anyway??
?This is your guardian angel. ETA two minutes. Can you hold out until then??

Owen quickly scanned the brightening horizon to look for any sign of the promised help. To the North, West, and South there was nothing. No approaching cars, no tell-tale dust cloud, nothing. To the East was the several hundred foot cliff and the blinding light of a steadily rising sun. Even if he could see anything in that direction, it didn?t matter. There was no way anyone down there could help him now. He replied back into the radio. ?Umm, okay. Thanks for nothing??
He let the radio drop to the floor just as the creeper stepped up to his door with the muzzle of the gun pointed at his face.
?Out of the car, NOW!?
Owen thought of making a stand with his trusty pistol, but even if he could take out the guy holding the machine gun, he wouldn?t stand a chance on foot against the two fully armed cars. He paused, trying to take as much time as possible without making it look intentional, then slowly opened the door and stepped out with his hands in the air.
?Okay, what the hell do you want with me??
?We want the girl. Where is she??
?As you can clearly see, she isn?t here with me, you fuckin??? his reply was cut short when the butt of the AK-47 smashed into his stomach, dropping him to his knees.
?Where is the girl!? I?m not going to ask again!?
?I?m not going to tell you a damn thing, so might as well just shoot me.? Owen gasped, still holding his stomach.
?All in good time, Mr. Owen, all in good time. I can?t kill you yet, at least not until we decide you?ve outlived your usefulness.? The creeper grabbed Owen?s shoulder, dragged him to his feet, and motioned towards a dirty silver Sovereign. The driver of the car hit a button and the trunk opened.
Owen dropped to the ground, pretending to be more injured than he really was. He looked around and still saw no sign of any help. Whoever that had been on the radio must have been just playing with him. The promised two minutes were almost up and there was no sign of any help. He was just starting to climb back to his feet when he noticed a most peculiar sound. It was deep, powerful rumble, that could only be made by a massive engine running wide open. And there was more than one. The creeper with the gun noticed it as well and began hurriedly searching for the source.
What happened next occurred in an instant, but to Owen it all seemed to happen in slow motion.
There was a loud double blip sound as something nearby lit up the radar screens in two of the creeper?s cars. Almost immediately it was followed by the distinct whistling sound of machine gun shells passing dangerously close. Both of the cars with creepers inside erupted into fireballs and a large black shadow passed them at high speed. A tremendous blast of warm air blew Owen and the creeper off their feet, as a massive twin-engined aircraft screamed past with a deafening roar less than 20 feet overhead.
The creeper made a break for his car, and Owen braced himself as the plane gracefully curved back for a second pass. A split-second burst from the nose guns was all it took to obliterate the remaining creeper and his car. The engines of the plane quickly dropped in pitch as it throttled back, and Owen stood in place with his jaw dropped as it slowed and came in for a landing nearby.
Whomever was piloting that thing had executed a lightning fast, pin-point accurate attack. And by diving in with the sun to his back, there was no way they could have seen him until it was too late.

Guardian angel indeed.

But that still didn?t explain who it was, or why he was here.

*************Chapter 9***************

The plane taxied up to a position near the flaming wreckage and turned a full 180 degrees as if lining up for a quick takeoff. The engines died down to calm idle, and the canopy slid open.
The pilot stood up and yelled, ?Quickly Owen, grab anything you need out of your car and get onboard before their backup arrives. They were only about 10 miles away.?
Owen hesitated, but since there didn?t seem to be any alternative he walked over to his pink Pan-Am to grab his gun and few other small personal items. He patted the ruined car on the hood and, suppressing a tear, he whispered, ?I?m going to miss you old girl. We had a great run??
He turned away from his mistress and quickly walked towards the plane and it?s patiently waiting pilot. When he got closer, the only markings he could make out on the slate-gray skin were some very faint USAAF markings that had been painted over, and the face of a beautiful red-haired woman on the side of the nose. He was about to ask how to get up to the cockpit when a metal ladder extended out of a slot in the wing behind the cockpit. Owen carefully climbed the ladder and glanced back as it retracted back into the wing.
He said to the pilot who was standing quietly on the wing, ?So, who are you??
The pilot removed his helmet, dropped it onto the seat, and extended his hand. ?Good to see you again, Owen. It?s been too long.?
Owen?s jaw dropped again when he recognized the face of a vigilante he hadn?t seen since the events in Las Vegas. It was Fnork. His hesitation vanished and he accepted the handshake immediately.
?Well I?ll be damned? you?re the last person I ever expected to see around here again,? he said with a huge grin. ?Good to see you again.?
Remembering that they didn?t have much time remaining, he quickly lowered himself into the space directly behind the pilot?s seat and watched as Fnork put his helmet back on, climbed into his own seat, and closed the canopy.
Fnork glanced back at Owen and said, ?Hang on!? Almost immediately the engines revved back up to speed with a roar, and the plane began to accelerate across the barren expanse. Owen was pressed hard into the back of the cockpit, and within seconds they were in the air and grabbing altitude fast. Owen looked out towards the ground and saw a cloud of dust moving towards the battle scene. He wished he could see the looks on the faces of those creepers when they found their all of their allies dead, and he was nowhere to be found. He watched as they slowly faded away into the distance behind.

Once he was sure they were safely away, he turned his attention back to the plane and the pilot whom he hadn?t seen in several years. He couldn?t help but admire the new set of ?wheels? Fnork was driving. The only other time he?d ever seen a plane like this one was in a war museum when he was just a kid?
Fnork must have known what he was thinking, because he glanced back to fill Owen in on the details.
?It?s a Lockhart F-38 Reaper, K-model. When the F-51 Palominos failed miserably against the Luftwaffe, the Army put all their interest back into the ?38?s that were dominating the Pacific. The K-model was the final variant that went into production, but only a few hundred were built before the war ended. Real shame they didn?t get them sooner, because the only thing that could catch one was a Messernacht 262, and those didn?t stand a chance in a dogfight. I got my hands on this one a few years ago for a real good price. It?s such a fine aircraft that it barely needed any modifications at all. All I really added was this small radar screen and a few other odds and ends. The armament is still exactly the same as it was in the war: four .50?s and a 20mm, all right on the tip of the nose.?
?Nice?? was Owen?s only response, because he was still in awe of everything that had just happened. His car was already forgotten, and now he was wishing he knew how to fly.
?Well, what do you say we find some place to put down and meet up with the others??
?Sounds good to me,? Owen replied ?Say, there?s a small airfield about three miles away from where we?re hiding out. That would probably be a good place to stash your plane for a while.? He pointed to the Northwest, where a small town was coming into view. Fnork nodded and rolled the F-38 slightly to the right to point towards the town.

*********Chapter 10***********

Once they were safely back on the ground, and Owen finished admiring the airplane, he found a phone to give Redline Fox a call. He was still so excited about what had just happened that it took several minutes of storytelling before he finally got the message through that he needed to be picked up at the airport. Twenty minutes later Redline pulled up in his Piranha, and the big black van following parked alongside.
Fnork and Redline Fox immediately greeted each other like they were old friends, but when Snake was introduced the handshake lasted only seconds, as they both eyed each other suspiciously. They had never met in person before, but both had heard plenty of rumors about the other. Snake had a particularly shady past, but he always said that was behind him. On the other hand, very little was known about Fnork?s past at all, but everything Snake had heard told him that it was much safer being with him than against him.
After the greetings were finished and Fnork was satisfied that his plane was secured, they headed back to the vehicles. Owen was climbing into the passenger seat of the van, and had already started telling Snake about what had happened since he left the hideout that morning. When the other two got to the Piranha, Jade was watching them intently from the back seat.
Once they were in the car and rolling again, Redline began relating to Fnork everything that had happened since his trip to Dante?s, and how Jade had come under his protection. Fnork didn?t respond at all until Redline was completely finished with his tale, at which point he said, ?There?s more going on here than it appears. Once everyone is settled back in your hideout, I?m going to head out to look around for some more clues to what is happening.?
?That?s a good idea, since none of those creepers will know you?re back, and won?t be watching for you,? Redline Fox replied.
?Owen?s car is wrecked, so I?ll take him to get a new one.?

A few minutes later they pulled into the hideout, where Owen once again started telling everyone about what happened to him that morning. Fnork noticed that this time around, there were a lot more creepers giving chase, and several other details had been exaggerated as well. He gave a small grin, but listened silently with the others. Halfway through the story, Redline was distracted by Jade tugging on his sleeve. She had a concerned look on her face, and her knees were pressed tightly together. He knew immediately what this meant, and led her off to the bathroom. They returned just as Owen finished the story.
Before he could start it over again, Redline interjected and said that they needed to discuss plans for what to do next. They agreed that Owen would go with Fnork for a few days to get a new car, while Redline and Snake would stay behind with Jade to find what information they could in the surrounding area. They would also try to get more information from Jade herself. So far she hadn?t provided anything new, though they could tell she was still hiding something.

They all took a day to rest, and to make preparations for the next few days. Early the following morning, Snake started up his van to take Fnork and Owen back to the airport, while Jade stayed behind with Redline Fox to tidy up the hideout a bit. Redline said they were going to head back to Dante?s later to see if he had heard any new rumors. He?d have to be careful though, in case any creepers were still in the area.
Last edited by Fnork on Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Kids N' Vigs (continued...)

Post by Fnork » Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:09 pm

*********Chapter 11************

When Fnork and Owen were back in the air, Owen asked where they were headed.
Fnork said, ?We?re heading North, to Wisconsin. Since I don?t really need it anymore, I?m giving you my old Fiarello. You should remember it from when we were all in Las Vegas??
Owen couldn?t have been more excited. He knew all too well what that car was capable of. The thought of it being his was almost overwhelming.
??But before we go there, we?ll stop back by the wreckage of your car, in case we can salvage anything useful.?
A few minutes later they reached the remains of the previous battle, and after making several passes to ensure the area was unoccupied, they landed and walked over to what was left of the pink Pan-Am. Most of what had survived the fight had already been stripped, either by the second pack of creepers or scavengers that had come later.

Owen used a pocketknife to scratch five new kill marks into the door next to the countless others that had been painted on. He kept track of every creeper he destroyed, and these were from his Pan-Am?s final battle.
He spent several minutes sorting through some personal items from in the glove compartment that had been strewn on the floor, when Fnork climbed out from under the hood. He was holding a small cylinder that he?d found tucked down near the firewall. It took Owen a few seconds to recognize what it was, but once he noticed how thick the wires protruding from both ends were, he remembered. It was the surge suppressor that Nightmare had installed when she first gave him the car. He had completely forgotten about it, because he hadn?t encountered any creepers armed with HaVIK karpoons in years. Not since the events in Las Vegas, now that he thought about it. He was surprised that the scavengers had missed it, although he quickly realized that even if they had found it, they probably wouldn?t have had the slightest idea what it was.
His excitement at the find quickly disappeared when he noticed the frown on the other?s face. Fnork turned it over in his hands a few times, then tossed it carelessly to the ground.
?Junk. Looks like it burned out years ago, probably the first time you used it.? He walked around to the other side of the car and began inspecting the frame on the roof where the MaGMA karpoon launcher had been mounted.
Several control wires were still sticking out of the roof, and most of them appeared to have been cut. It was most likely the first thing the creepers took, but it looked like they had been in big a hurry when they did it. Owen, having found everything he could under the seats, had started looking at the wires too.
He gave a shriek, doubled over, and fell to the ground holding his stomach. Fnork immediately dropped to a crouch and started looking around for a sniper. He realized immediately that Owen wasn?t in pain. He was laughing.
?What is it?? Fnork asked, standing back up.
?It?s? just that? ? Owen began, trying to regain his composure, ??do you see that little circuit board at the base of those wires? It?s the controller for the launcher. I? I didn?t even know it was there until I did some rewiring so I could use other types of karpoons without switching launchers. Thing is, without that board connected, the launcher won?t work right? but there?s no way to tell until you try firing the ?poon?? He broke out laughing again. ?Someone is going to be in for one hell of a surprise when they try it out!?
He stopped abruptly, got up off the ground and walked around to the driver?s side. Pulling out his small pocketknife again, he scratched an extra kill mark into the door. He patted the car lightly and said to it, ?Looks like you?ve still got one more coming old girl. I just hope I?m there to see it when it happens.?
He had a huge smile on his face when he turned back to Fnork. ?I?m ready to go, there?s nothing else left to do here.?
Fnork nodded in agreement, and within minutes they were flying North towards Owen?s new car.

**********Chapter 12***********

Redline Fox watched Snake, Owen and Fnork drive away towards the airport in the big black van. Jade was still asleep, so he decided to take some time to clean up the hideout a little. After spending more than a half hour picking up beer cans that Snake had left sitting all over the place, he finally gave up. Muttering to himself and shaking his head, he said, ?What a slob. He should learn to pick this shit up himself??
He was distracted by the sound of soft footsteps behind him. Jade came walking out of the lounge where she had slept on the couch. ?I?m hungry,? she said as soon as he turned around.
Redline checked around the kitchen area for something suitable for a child to eat, but came up empty handed. ?I?ll tell you what Jade,? he stated, ?as soon as I finish cleaning up a little more, we?ll head over to Dante?s Inferno to find something to eat. Sound good?? He glanced quickly at Snake?s pin-up girl calendar on the wall to double check what day it was. It was Sunday so the store would be closing early, but they still had until at least noon. There was plenty of time to get there before it closed.
Jade responded with a muffled ?Okay?? before wandering off to the bathroom.

Half an hour later, Redline wrote a small note for Snake to tell him where they were going, then they hopped into the red Picard Piranha and headed down the road. It was a twenty-five minute drive to Dante?s, but the time passed quickly. Jade was talkative enough, but anytime Redline asked her about her parents or why she had shown up in his car, she?d get upset and wouldn?t respond until he changed the subject.

Halfway there, Redline was discussing favorite colors with Jade when a bright yellow car passing in the opposite direction caught his eye. He initially ignored it because he didn?t see any weapons on the roof, but did a double take when he recognized the signature tail-lights of a Palomino moving away in his rearview. He stared at the car in the mirror unto it disappeared behind him seconds later. A chill swept through his entire body, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He felt like something in his head was about to click, when Jade loudly said her favorite color was orange, and the memory of that car evaporated.

When they reached the store, there were only three cars visible in the lot. Two were sitting near the front door, meaning they were probably customers, while the third was off to the side near the dumpster where employees usually parked. None of them looked armed, so any anxiety at the thought of an ambush quickly left his mind. Jade held his hand tightly as they entered. He understood why, because this was where she had been left in his car by some unknown person for some unknown reason. The chimes on the door jingled, and Dante looked up at him from behind the counter. A young blonde woman was rearranging a display on one of the side shelves, and when she saw Jade she smiled and walked over to say hi, obviously looking for any excuse to take a break from working.
?That?s my niece, Jessie.? Dante shrugged, ?So what brings you two back here so soon Red??
Redline Fox watched Jessie and Jade talking for a few seconds, then gestured to Dante and walked over to the other side of the building where their conversation wouldn?t be heard.
?I don?t really know what?s going on, but something big is going down. Owen got ambushed by a big pack of creepers the other day, and barely escaped with his life. They were looking for Jade.?
?Oh, that?s what I?ve been calling her. She wouldn?t give me her real name, but seems to like ?Jade? just fine.?
?So what brings you and? Jade here, anyway??
?We figured this would be a good place to start looking for answers. Have you heard anything about what?s been going on??
?No, not a thing,? Dante said after thinking a moment. ?This place has been deader than a doornail all week. Strange really, usually there?s a lot more activity around here. It?s like everyone is afraid to be out on the roads or something. Other than those three, you?re the only one that?s been in here all day,? he gestured towards the cooler where an elderly gentleman was reaching for a milk carton on the back of the shelf, and then towards the candy aisle where a heavyset mother was prying candy bars out her daughter?s tiny hands.
Redline Fox glanced back towards Jade and Jessie, who were now sitting at a small table coloring on some scrap paper. The fat woman?s little girl saw the same thing, and was now working her way over to join them.
?Looks like she?s made a few friends,? he paused a moment, thinking, then continued, ?Dante, do you think you could keep an eye on her for a few hours while I go out looking for more information on what?s going on? I don?t want to have her along in case I run into any, um, trouble.?
?Sure, I guess? it?ll give Jess something to do. I?ve just been having her re-do the displays because there?s nothing else left to do today,? Dante gave a half-hearted grin.
?Thanks. I?ll be back in a few hours to pick her up again.? He started to walk towards the door, when Dante called out to him.
?Hey, why don?t you take this.? He dug into his pocket, and threw a set of car keys at Redline. ?That beast of yours is way too recognizable, so why don?t you take mine. It?s parked in the shed out back, and you can stow yours there in the meantime.?
?Thanks again!? Redline walked out the front door and started to circle around the store to the shed in back, when something wet hit him on the arm. He looked up at the sky and saw several dark clouds rolling in. A rainstorm was on the way.
He opened the door to the shed, flipped on the light, and stepped inside. His eyes immediately fell upon the gleaming blue and white car directly in front of him. It was a 1969 Sanderson Rattler, originally built by Phaedra. He?d seen it dozens of times before, and Dante talked about it all the time, but he still couldn?t help but stare at its immaculate curves for a few minutes. Dante called it ?Blue Streak?, because that?s about all you ever saw when it went by. The car was a literal rocket on wheels, and Dante rarely let anyone else even touch it. It was his baby, the love of his life.
Redline raised the keys to unlock the door, then stopped to actually look at them. The key chain was old and worn, and looked completely out of place next to the beautiful blue car. Plus, it had a faded Dover logo on it. ?Idiot. I should know better than to get my hopes up like that,? he said aloud, finally noticing the beat up, old, brown Lightning parked on the other side of the Rattler. Unlike the Blue Streak, the Lightning was armed. There was a pair of machine guns on the roof, probably 7.62mm?s, and a 20mm cannon poking out the back next to the tailpipe.
Despite the car?s outward appearance, the engine sounded very healthy as he fired it up and drove around front to park next to his Piranha. He then parked his own car in the shed, and closed the garage door to hide it from view. He had just re-entered the building through the back door and placed his own set of keys near the counter, when he saw four heavily armed black cars pull up to the front of the store. He didn?t recognize the make or model of any of them, but somehow knew they weren?t the slightest bit friendly.

**********Chapter 13**************

Two of the cars were large sedans, and both had some extremely large cannons mounted on the roof. Redline Fox had never seen guns that size on a car before. The two sleeker coupes each had what looked like a miniature karpoon launcher on the roof, next to an elevated machine gun that was at least .50 caliber, judging by the size of the barrel. He had heard some things about turreted weapons, but had never had the chance to see one in action. Rumor had it that most weren?t anywhere close to accurate enough for use against fast moving cars, but he hoped he wouldn?t have to find out for himself.
Dante saw the cars too, and must have sensed the danger as well, because he quickly ushered Jade, Jessie, and the customers into the back of the store where they couldn?t be seen from the front.
He quickly walked back to the counter as a large man wearing a heavy black trench coat and combat boots slammed the door open and stepped inside. He had short, neatly cut blonde hair, and was wearing small round sunglasses. He made no attempt to hide the AK-47 slung over his shoulder, or the pair of Glocks holstered at his waist.
Ignoring Dante completely, he pointed directly at Redline Fox, and demanded, ?Ver ist zee little girl, Fox? Ve know you haff her.? His accent was unmistakably German. Both men at the counter noticed he was wearing thick leather gloves that matched the coat, boots, and sunglasses.
?What girl? Do I look like someone who?d have a little girl with me?? Redline?s mind was racing, trying to come up with a way of getting everyone out of this situation safely. He smiled sheepishly, trying to look nonchalant.
?Do not lie Amerikaner. You vill give her to us, or ve vill take her from you.?
Redline gave Dante a look that told him to back away, and said the first thing that popped into his head. ?Show me what you got. Dipshit with a nine-toed woman.? No one else knew what he was talking about, and in the momentary confusion he let his instincts take over. He lowered his shoulder and hit the man with a bum rush, forcing him right out the front door. He immediately dove towards Dante?s brown Lightning and hit the ground rolling. He heard angry yelling in German as he climbed into the car and started the engine. Machine gun fire from the AK-47 raked the passenger side door as he peeled out of the parking lot, leaving a cloud of tire smoke behind him.
The pedal was against the floor and the mighty engine was howling as he sped away. Small drops of rain were starting to smack the windshield. He looked up at the rearview mirror and saw all four of the black cars in hot pursuit, closing fast.
Redline continued to accelerate, and the two larger cars began to fall back. In response, the smaller pair surged ahead and began to quickly close the gap between them.
Moments later they fired a few short bursts from their machine guns. Obviously ranging shots, but they were coming much too close for comfort. Redline lined up the crosshair Dante had painted on the rearview mirror, and fired a few round from the 20mm. Most of them sailed wide, but one found its mark, only to skip off the sleek car?s hood without causing anything more than superficial damage.
The pair must have taken this as a challenge, because they immediately separated and easily pulled up on either side of the Lightning, despite the fact that Redline was pushing the pedal as hard as he could to the floor. Their speeds were approaching 140 mph and the Dover engine was nearing its limit, but the black cars seemed to have no problem maintaining the speed.
Redline risked a glance at the car to his left, and witnessed a most peculiar sight. The man sitting in the passenger seat of the sleek black car was wearing a helmet with some sort of large optical device attached to it. As he watched the man turn to face him, out of the corner of his eye he could see the turret rotating in exactly the same motion. It defied logic, but somehow he knew the events were related. His left foot instinctively reached up and tapped the brake pedal as the turret opened fire, ripping through the air where his car would have been had he not slowed so suddenly.
He looked to the right and saw the turret of the second car open fire, and felt his car shudder as the shells lanced their way through the armor plating behind him. He stomped on the gas again, as the first car swerved across his path, laying down a strip of oil. It was too close and he was going too fast to avoid it, so he steered straight ahead and kept his foot on the gas, somehow maintaining control.
The second car dropped behind him, and fired the mini karpoon launcher for the first time. For a brief instant there was a glint of silver as a two-foot long spike flew through the air and speared the back of his car. Just after he felt the impact, the ignition system cut out for a split second, and the engine made a horrible sound as the spark plugs in all eight cylinders missed a beat. There was a deafening bang as the car backfired and roared back to life in the next second. ?What the fuck was that?!,? he yelled, as a second spike missed him by inches to the left.
The first car now fired one of the spikes, and it embedded itself in the back right door, followed by the same misfire in the engine. This time when the engine came back to life, it sounded slightly off. Those mini-karpoons were doing some serious damage to the engine, and he knew he couldn?t run anymore.
Redline veered to the right, slamming into the lead car and sending it into a violent skid before dropping back abruptly. He slowed and started to make a wide arcing turn back to the left to attack the second car, and realized his fatal mistake a moment too late.
In his flight, he?d forgotten the other two cars.

*********Chapter 14************

The two large sedans caught up to Redline Fox almost immediately, but instead of trying to surround him like the smaller cars had, they charged straight at him. He swerved out of the way just as a burst of gigantic cannon shells streaked past. He could almost feel the shockwave as they passed, they were so close.
The turret from the small car continued to pepper him with bullets as it fought to stay out of his line of fire. Either the rumors he had heard were blatantly wrong, or this was some huge leap in technology. That turret was just as accurate, if not more so, than the fixed guns of most enemies he had faced.
The two sedans circled back towards him and opened fire again. They only fired a quick burst, which meant they were trying to conserve ammo, or they thought that a few shots were all they needed. He narrowly missed getting hit again as they passed, and sprayed a few rounds with his roof guns at the car with the turret. It took a few hits, stopped firing and curved away.
The rain was starting to obscure his view now, so he flipped the wipers on high and turned his attention to the larger cars. He dodged another burst from the cannons of one car, and maneuvered himself around to get a clear shot. He opened fire and put a sustained burst of firepower into the side of the car. It was enough hot lead to rip most other cars to pieces, but as it turned out of his line of fire his jaw dropped in surprise.

It was undamaged.

Redline Fox thought he was going mad. He simply could not understand what had happened. A heavily armored car might have been able to survive a hit like that, but it would have taken considerable damage. But there was nothing. The paint wasn?t even scratched.
It was no surprise to his opponents, and they took advantage of the few seconds of shock. The second sedan connected with one of the cannon shells, and the impact devastated the back of the Lightning. The brown car spun around like a top, but he managed to regain control in time to direct another stream of machine gun fire into the oncoming car. The attacker didn?t even flinch.
Redline saw a single muzzle flash from one of the massive cannons, and reflexively raised his arms to shield his face. The shell hammered into the engine compartment, there was an explosion, and everything went black.

************Chapter 15***************

Snake returned to the hideout about ten minutes after Redline Fox and Jade left. He reached into the refrigerator for a beer, and found a note taped to the can. He chugged the beer, got back in his van and left for Dante?s store.

He was a few miles from the store and raindrops were starting to strike his windshield when he saw a dust cloud in the distance. He stopped the van, grabbed some binoculars and climbed up on the roof to get a better view. He could see a large brown car being chased by four black ones. It reminded him of a pack of wolves running down an injured deer. He watched for a minute or two until the dust got too thick for him to see clearly anymore.
?Looks like someone pissed off the Feds? sucks to be him.? He chuckled, and started back down the road. That fight had nothing to do with him, so he didn?t feel compelled to interfere. Besides, he had business of his own to take care of.
As he pulled in front of Dante?s store, he saw a set of black marks where someone had obviously left in a hurry. There were no cars in the lot, which was odd because there was always at least one or two. Must be a slow day.
He casually walked into the store, humming to himself, when he heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked. He spun around, his hand already dropping to the pistol at his side, when he saw Dante peering around the corner of a shelf with an assault rifle in his hands. He looked extremely agitated.
?Oh, thank god it?s you!? Dante exclaimed as he stepped out from behind cover. ?Redline was just in here, and some Germans showed up looking for Jade, and Red made a run for it. They went chasing after him, but he hasn?t come back yet. I really hope he?s okay?? There was a look of distress on his face, like he was expecting the worst.
?Dante, it?s okay. Redline knows what he?s doing. He?ll be fine. Really.? Snake replied, but even he was becoming concerned now. ?Where?s Jade??
?I told Jess -she?s my niece- to take Jade back to her house and keep an eye on her. The Germans never saw either of them, so they won?t know where to find them. I?m waiting here in case Red comes back??
?Which way did they go, and how many Germans were there??
?They took off in that direction?? Dante pointed out across the road, ??and they had four big black cars. They were armed to the teeth. The cannons on top of the two bigger cars were fucking huge, and the others had turrets!?
?Redline should be okay, he drives that ?Ranha like it?s a second skin, and he knows all sorts of tricks?? Snake said.
Dante interrupted, ?But, that?s the thing? he wasn?t driving his Piranha? he was in one of my cars??
?Which one?? Snake was on edge.
?It?s my old, brown Dover Light??
?OH, FUCK ME!? Snake yelled, and he was sprinting out the door to his van before Dante could say another word.

**********Chapter 16**************

Redline Fox awoke to the sound of heavy rain hitting the roof overhead. His head was pounding, his eyes were out of focus, and he hurt all over. He tried to move his arms to rub some sore muscles, but couldn?t. His sight began to clear up, and he could see that he was laying down in the back seat of a large car. His arms and legs were bound so tightly in chains that he could do little more than prop himself up to a sitting position. An instant later he realized it was the inside of one of the German cars, and the entire chase from Dante?s store came flooding back to him. He looked around to figure out where they were, when the car changed direction without warning. One of the men in the front seat pointed to the left, and Redline turned to see what he had indicated. It was a big black van approaching fast.
Snake?s van.
Redline Fox groaned, and mumbled to himself, ?Get out of here man, this is more than you can handle,? but it was no use. Snake had already committed himself to the fight, and once he started one he always finished it.
The German sitting in the passenger seat pressed a button on a panel in the center of the dashboard, and a large generator in the trunk roared to life. A display on the panel lit up, showing a silhouette of the car outlined with a glowing blue border. The words ?Magnetic Shielding Active? flashed on the top.
A series of loud thuds sounded directly above, as the 30mm cannons of the German car opened fire on Snake?s van. They barely missed, and as the car turned to avoid a collision, a stream of fifty caliber machine gun shells shot straight at the back door where Redline was sitting. He flinched just before they hit, expecting to get shot or at least sprayed with breaking glass. But, instead of the usual sound of metal tearing through metal, it sounded more like someone had casually tossed some loose change at the side of the door. He quickly put two and two together. These Germans had developed a new shielding system that made them all but impervious to bullets. Snake didn?t stand a chance, but there was no way for him to know until it was too late.
The Germans in the front seat were laughing as another stream of machine gun fire pounded on the car, making that same soft pinging sound as before. Redline glanced down at the display panel, and noticed that the glowing blue border had turned a shade of orange. There was more thudding from the German cannons, and he saw a few make contact with the van. The high explosive shells made only small entry holes, but when Snake changed direction the real damage was visible. The opposite side of the van had a gaping hole in it that you could drive a small car through. Despite the heavy damage, Snake was still putting up a valiant fight.
Redline leaned closer to the side window to get a better view, and his arm brushed the metal door handle. He cried out and jerked away, with a nasty burn forming on his arm. It felt like he had just touched a hot burner on a stove. He resisted the pain as much as he could, but combined with all his other injuries it was all he could do to remain conscious. The border on the display panel was a dark red now. It was then that he noticed the steam rising from the hood and doors where raindrops were striking the car, and realized that the shield was generating an incredible amount of heat. If it got too hot, they?d have to shut it down. They weren?t as invincible as they seemed.
The Germans turned to make another head-on pass at Snake. The van opened up with everything it had left, pummeling the German car with ammunition, while the 30mm cannons fired twice each and fell silent. There was a massive explosion directly ahead, and as the car turned slightly Redline saw the twisted, burning carcass of Snake?s van go cart-wheeling past.

Redline Fox could no longer find even the strength to cry out in anguish. Eyes wide, he looked forward long enough to read the words ?Heat Levels Critical: Emergency Shutdown Imminent? flashing bright red on the shield display, and then he passed out.

Hours later, when the rain had stopped and the sun was setting, Dante spotted a lone figure approaching his store on foot. He recognized Snake?s tattoos immediately, and rushed out to meet him. What he saw horrified him. Snake was burned over most of his body, and was bleeding freely from countless wounds. He had made it this far on strength of will alone.
He leaned up against Dante, and spoke in a whisper, ?They got?.Fox?.couldn?t stop them?.armor?.guns useless??

He slumped to the ground, and lay unmoving. Dante stood speechless and let him fall. There was nothing more he could do to help.

Snake was dead.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Post by Fnork » Tue Oct 28, 2003 8:34 pm

**********Chapter 17************

A bullet riddled highway information sign passed by on her right. The Quicksilver Catamount?s fuel gauge reading close to bingo fuel, heeding the suggestion of the sign?s claim of being the last Axxon station in South Dakota seemed like a smart idea. She eased off the 429 engine, which gave a growling sigh as she downshifted using more engine brake then brake pad to slow the car down. The car glided up the exit ramp and rolled through the stop sign at the end. A single lonely lamppost illuminated the intersection. As it pounced on the emblem of Quicksilver Cars the shape of a fierce cat set in silver glittered against dark blue as the car made a left down a arrow straight country road with endless wheat fields on either side. Headlights parted the sea of blackness for about three and half miles until dim light from a small town glowed against the night?s backdrop. Slowing, she rolled through the jigsaw like town proper, noticing how randomly placed the houses where, before locating a row of gas-pumps. She stopped the car and surveyed the area around her while removing her C18 Glock from the holster under her arm. The pumps where shut-off for the night, but a pub was adjacent to the garage frontage, being part of the same building it was a good chance that they had the same owner, probably same employees as well.
People around here where on edge, even with her skill and authority she felt it best not to chance someone accidentally catching a glance at her gun and panicking. The tazer and dagger she carried where another story, most of them probably would not know what the tazer was and they wouldn?t see the blade. She flipped a kill switch under the steering wheel then exited the car. A gentle breeze caused the Axxon sign to sway back and forth, creeping on rusty hinges. Her dusty red hair flowed out from under the tan cowboy hat she wore, the breeze danced strands of her hair down the back of her tan trenchcoat She glanced down main street, noticing most of the buildings where dilapidated, the street itself poorly maintained and ending abruptly at the edge of a wheat field. A group of bald teenagers sitting on their bikes stared at her as she walked around the building into the bar.
Surprisingly the interior far surpassed the exterior. There was a liberal use of polished wood and a TV in each corner. She stepped up to the bar and was impressed with the wide selection of liquor. Apparently, a lot of people spent a lot of time and money in here. Considering this was literally the middle of nowhere, where else would people go. Of course, the patrons stared at her, that was expected of course so she didn?t really give a damn, the bartender on the other hand, a thin shifty looking type, seemed to be ignoring her. Already, he wanted to do it the hard way.

?Hey pal, how you doin?? She said in a friendly but firm tone.

The bartender came over to her with body language that expressed a tremendous chore was being performed.

He spoke quickly, ?Uh yeah whata want??

?Could use some gas, think you could help me out??

?Pumps closed.? He said flatly.

Inwardly she scowled, people had no sense of propriety, and on top of that some like this jackass took proud of it. She tried keeping her patience, taking the catch more flys with honey route as the better choice.

?Yeah, I know the pumps are closed, but if you could help me out by...?

?Just said the pumps closed.? The bartender interrupted rudely.

Oh no asshole, you don?t talk to a Jersey girl this way. But you?ve got one more chance. She leaned back with her arms behind her hand and cracked her back; she did her best to appear sensual yet modest enough that no one else in the bar would notice.
This failed to catch the bartender?s attention as he wiped out the inside of a mug with a paper towel. In fact, he was moving away from her, without even asking if she wanted a drink nonetheless.

She leaned in over the bar, ?Look pal, I?m just asken for some gas, I?ll pay you double the cost if that?s what it?ll take.?

He considered it for a moment, looking her over.

Then he sneered, placed his hands on the bar, and leaned over her. ?Pumps closed...?

In a sudden blur of movement she grabbed his tie, unsheathed her dagger and stabbed down into the bar, his tie held fast in the wood and he struggled to free himself as she grabbed his hair. His eyes as big as saucers now, the other patrons, a sparse collection, seemed ready too jump to his aid. She dug into the front pocket of her trenchcoat and produced a twenty-dollar bill.

Shoving the money into the bartenders face, ?Buy everyone a round of drinks and one for yourself, I?ll have a scotch on the rocks.? She made sure everyone heard.

Though they where still on edge, everyone eased back into their seats. For all they knew, she could have a rocket launcher under that coat.

?Now...? She shook his head, feeling the hair between her fingers knotting and tearing. ?...After a nice relaxing drink your going to come outside with me and turn the pumps back on. Got it you dickless redneck fuck!?

He nodded his head hurried and confused. After the dagger was removed from his tie he frantically began pouring beers from the draft.

?Watch the head on that!? One of the patrons taunted.

?Hey, give me a Miller, nota that light swill naither!? Someone else called.

While he plunked down beers in front of the patrons, she admired the blue cat?s eye stone set into the forged steel hilt of the dagger. It was not a glued together handle; the blade was set into the hilt as one piece. Her mate always did buy her thoughtful gifts. Too bad most men she found in these not even deserving of a dot on a map towns where complete fools
Outside the air was cool, almost fall like. A frontal system had swept out of Canada through the area early that day, strong thunderstorms ushered in the cooler air. A pleasing consequence of the downpour was that the waxed surface of the Catamount had been rinsed of the long road?s grimy residue. She admired her car while locking the gas pump?s handle and securing the nozzle into the filler hole. With the pump flowing fuel at an arduously slow rate, she had plenty of time to interrogate the bartender whom had almost lost his arm when he had attempted to fill the car?s gas tank for her.

?Hey, I woulda not, been such, if I knew you was wannaof them auto-mercenaries.? He had noticed the rocket pods on the car?s roof.

The pods where flush with the roofline, looking as if they had been an original part of the car?s design. Nothing like the clunky traditional Fire-Rite pods.

?Shut it!?

He jumped and froze in place, leaning against the pump with his knee up on the concrete slab.

She eyed him with contempt, ?You work here often I?m guessing??

?Uhyeah.? He replied nervously.

?So if someone, recognizable came through here for fuel, you?d probably see them.?

He was not sure where this was going at first but he nodded his head. The bald headed BMX bike gang had circled closer to the gas station, but stayed across the street. She shook her head with amusement at the Nazi youth patrol.

She crossed her arms, her eyes bored into his. ?I?m going to make this simple for you. When I ask a question you say yes or no for now.?

?I uh...?

?Have you seen any armed cars come through hear in the last three days??

He hesitated.

?Yes or no!? She snapped with an acidic tone.

?Yeah yeah!? He answered in a panic. ?Sorry...!?

She gestured for him to be silent. He complied.

?A red Picard Piranha??


He?s learning, she thought.

?A black Fiarello? Think hard.?

?No, nota Fiarello ever round here. Those are fancy bucks cars.?

She smirked, the gas tank was probably almost full so she grabbed his bar rag off his shoulder and used it to make sure no gas was spilled on the Catamount?s immaculate finish.

?Have you seen any other fancy buck cars or otherwise odd vehicles?? She fiddled with the pumps nozzle.

He scratched his arm, ?I uh, maybe...?


Reflexively he stammered out, ?Yes, I mean yeah I thinso.?

She removed the nozzle and placed it back on it?s cradle, then folded the bar towel placing it neatly on his shoulder.

?What about small Japanese cars? Anything like that come through here??

A chuckle rose in his chest, ?Jap car? Whata think you?re at lady? No one bedumb enough too ride aroundinem those rollen coffins out here!?

Her eyes narrowed, his newly found confidence was not amusing in the least, he realized that she still was burned up with him so he backpedaled again with his hands up in an apologetic stance.

She asked, ?Did a little black Japanese car come through this town. Sound like nothing you?ve ever heard before didn?t it?

?I, ayuh but nota supposed to talk about it, but how wouldche known anyway??

You would be surprised what some people know and how they attain the information; she no liked this guy anymore, but pitied his ignorance.

She took out a ten, ?Explain.? She waved it in front of him until he gingerly took the money.

?I, well, yeah, it was little Jap thing. Made this crazy hiss-hiss thumpa noise, maybe the engine was fallien apart, buta not a mechanicya. So, anyway heabuy some octane booster then took off with allda wheels smoken! Never seen a car likea that! This creepy slante eye shorty was driven it...?

She rolled her eyes at the racist comment. Stagnate ignorance like that, managing to tenaciously cling to the underbelly of communities like a poisonous remora, was a main reason society never evolved. The post second civil war America was ripe for a new wave of thriving racism. As always, people needed someone else to blame for their problems and draw lines between them and us
But this information helped confirm information she had come upon in LaCrosse. She turned to leave and dropped another ten-dollar bill on the ground. As he bent down too pick it up she sat her down into the comfortable leather seat and shut the door.

?One more thing...?

He looked up at her, ?Uh yah??

?If that guy ever comes back here. Here is some advice. Show him more respect then you showed me or you?ll end up with more then a bruised ego, a sliced throat is worse then a sliced tie pal.?

Without much pomp or fanfare she eased the car out of the station, mocked a swerve at the BMX bike gang, (they jumped of course), and headed out of town. Accelerating back onto RT 90 she eased into a stride at about ninety miles per hour. There was nothing out here. Nothing except the huge lonely Missouri river meandering down from Montana. Crossing the bridge gave a magnificent view of the expanse of the river and the land. But all she could think about was her daughter. Maybe she did not know the man that her friend had become, but the person he used to be, that person would protect her daughter. She hoped the CIA files on Redline Fox and the vigilantes where greatly exaggerated in the sense that they where just outlaws no better or worse then the likes of the Sundance Kid. The fact that many of them accepted handles with just as much flare and mystery did not help their reputations. She knew better though, that?s why she quit. That was not enough though for her family too escape the madness of the world. Of course it was not, she was not stupid, but all this? No think tank seemed able to predict the true twisted nature of the human mind nor it?s motivations.
The car?s tires flat-tatted over the bridge seem as it crossed the river. You better be protecting her. It was a distracting thought she could not escape. Duel exhaust roared across the endless plains.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Post by Fnork » Thu Oct 30, 2003 5:43 pm

**********Chapter 18**********

A human body has exhibits an instinctive shock in reaction to sudden immersion in extremely cold water. It is a survival instinct that triggers a panic reaction and accelerates the release of all those chemicals that turn off your brain. Problem is, it is not a very useful survival instinct because one of the worst things for a person to do when in danger is panic. Another bucket of ice water thrown onto the naked back of Redline Fox sent a hollow numbness surging through his body. He pressed his hands against the white tile wall in front of him, concentrating his thoughts on being calm. Standing in a shower room, cold water poured down from the shower head, washing faint traces of blood off his body, around his bare feet, into the shower drain?s vortex. The water soaked into his blue jeans. The shower?s handle had been broken off and left on cold. Above him on a grated platform, a thick built German would sporadically throw a bucket of ice water down on his head.

?Ready talk? Where is da kinder?? He smiled wickedly, taking pleasure in his task.

Redline Fox remained silent, clenching his teeth as he tried to endure the agony. No desire rose in him to answer back with a witty insult or verbal confirmation of his unwillingness to cooperate. They already knew he was unwilling to cooperate, getting angry, wasting breath, would only make it more difficult to maintain control over his mind. The torture only had two simple purposes, make him suffer and make him talk. These thickheaded boot lickers operated on efficiency, complex motivations would only serve as a obstacle to their mission. His thoughts centered on the memories of sitting in a bathtub full of cold water and ice, The Professional holding a stop watch in one hand as he kept tabs on a heart monitor. At that time, The Professional often aided Redline in rigorous training programs designed for holistic improvement of mind and body. Ice bathtub time was never something he looked forward too, but he trusted Pro?s knowledge that he would not be allowed to do anything he was not ready for. That was a very long time ago and the ice cold water was once again on his back, but this time he had no one to cry out for if the pain became to great, so for now, he would endure.

?Your want it over! TALK!?

Redline?s breath shook, ?No.?

Frustrated with the lack of cooperation the interrogator dumped another bucket of water down him then spat.

?Fuchs shiest koff!? He cursed as he turned the valve that controlled water flow into the shower.

Grabbed by the back of the neck, Redline Fox was pulled out the shower, his hands bound behind his back, then dragged down the halls and rows of a dimly lit warehouse. With his peripheral vision blurring, he took in as much information about his location as he possibly could. Thinking was hard though, he was not sure if the dizziness was from pure pain or if he had a concussion from being stomped on with thick boots. The warehouse ceiling was not very high, a grid of skylights where in the ceiling, an energy saving design in the day. Freight skids where full of boxes and items from guns and missiles too foodstuffs and tobacco products.
At least the cold would reduce swelling, he laughed inwardly at the thought until he was thrown into a poorly constructed wooden shed, which stood in a long row of poorly constructed sheds. Loosing his balance, he managed only grazing his shoulder against the exposed nails that stuck through the plywood walls. He laid on the floor unable to muster the strength to move himself. This was a chance for him to catch his breath, if he was lucky they?d wait more then ten minutes this time. His body yearned for rest, but he had not the time for sleep, he had to think. Jade?s face flashed in his mind. Redline Fox started praying to the very limited spiritual constructs he kept faith in. Right now, he wished he believed in more. There was many things he believed in that where not accepted or understood by most people as a healthy or proper way of viewing life, but he held on to a emotion he usually reviled, hope, that those prayers would be answered.
The lack of cooperation on his part must have been getting to the Germans. It took them almost forty-minutes for someone to kick him awake, then order him onto his feet. Immediately he found it strange that he was not being dragged out of the shed. Yes, he was being handled roughly, but why had they not punched the back of his head or stomped his guts. They came into a more brightly lit part of the warehouse. A small office building was backed into the corner of the warehouse. A large mirror had replaced the open area where the counter used to be. Redline Fox knew it was a one-way mirror, he stared into it as he was pushed down into a very uncomfortable folding chair.
Looking around, he realized his vision was working much better but it took a few minutes for his orientation to allow him to focus on the man sitting about ten feet across from him in a similar chair, with a similar posture and similar binds. The other man wore a white shirt with black pants that looked as if they had once been quality attire.

?Hey!? Redline called out, ?What are you in for??

The other man coughed before replying, ?Nothen! We?re all innocent in here!? he said.

Both smirked much too the disdain of their captors.

?Be silent!? The hulking head German demanded as he wrung his leather gloved hands? together.

This was the same one that Redline Fox had bum rushed out the door back at Dante?s place. It must have been very embarrassing for such a muscle head to be run over by someone a foot shorter and half his weight.

?Yo, how?s it going buddy! Du bist roid rage! Haarrmmmpp!? Redline taunted. His German, not so good.

Regardless of his bad linguistic skills, the other Germans let out mild laughs, causing the big one to give an angry scowl. Without a doubt, he had been taken down a notch in the eyes of his comrades because of the incident early that day.

Big One smacked the other man in the back of the head when he let out a chuckle. ?Tell us ver ze child is or this man diesz becauze of your lack of cooperation.? He pulled out a WWII vintage pistol.

Damn it, Redline thought. An important card that he held was the fact that the chances of himself being killed where small, since they probably felt they needed him in order to find Jade. Or else, he?d be dead already. But, now they played an ace of their own. Redline Fox growled under his breath.


The German pulled back the hammer on his gun. The other man shook his head in a no, his eyes locked with Redline?s. Whoever he was, his eyes held a desperation that Redline?s own emotions could not approach. Who was this guy? Damn it!
Blood pounded through tense muscles. Everything in the universe froze except for the spectacle being played out in the circle of light in that warehouse.


No, no, no, flashed through Redline?s mind as German put his gun to the other man?s head. The trigger squeezed...

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Post by Fnork » Fri Oct 31, 2003 2:56 pm

***********Chapter 19**********

?Hold your temper in check Horst.? A calm and clinical voice called out of the shadows from behind the office.

His gun did not waver. He looked in the direction of the voice as Redline Fox kept his eyes on the gun.

?Garrgh! Vhy not just blow hiz brainsz out! Ve no need him!? Horst bellowed in frustration.

Footsteps approached the circle of light.

?Do as you are told and be a good puppy.?

Stepping into the light, a Asian man, no taller then five foot, five inches walked slowly with his hands behind his back as if out for a stroll. His suit was a slate grey, with matching slacks.

The Asian man ordered the German to back off with a deadly stare, ?Lower your gun! It is a chore, that you being such primitive example of a primitive culture, must constantly require bearing.?

Redline Fox could see the man bound in the chair across from him staring at the two men behind him with bitter contempt. Was the German contingent this guy?s lackeys? No, that could not be right, Horst, the big one, was all too willing to show insubordination.
Horst pointed his gun at the Asian man.

?Who ze fuck do youz think youz talken to Oonii youz little fuck!? He said with a snarl.

With a look of minor annoyance, Oni grabbed the big German?s lower arm, twisted it down so that his wrist pointed the gun towards the floor. A quick fist to the face made the German loose his grip as Oni smoothly, almost gently removed the gun from his hand then turned it on the former owner.

Oni waved it around bored, ?Now, that your metaphorical balls are in my hands, perhaps more literally since I am sure this gun represents a significant compensation that you lack biologically, I?ve cut your balls off, I ask that you practice more patience and regard towards our respective needs.?

Horst spat, ?Fuck you you fuck! If ve vere in our cars I?d terminate youz!?

Oni emptied the gun?s ammo clip, ?Yes yes, I am well aware of your capacity for terminating in your precious battleship, however, sullying one?s hands with such a primitive and unrefined form of competition is of no interest for me.?

The big German sneered, "Yeah, you rather let someone else do ze dangerouz and dirty vork for you."

Akihiko scowled darkly. "My horseman rides with a deadly swiftness that the apocalypse could only hope to reign."

"Vhile you cower in a hole waiting for ze Panzer to pass, you vill find that same hole to be your grave."

Akihiko handed the gun back to Horst who tried snatching it away. Oni pulled it away on the first attempt then allowed him to finally take it. ?Allow me also, to remind you before you remove yourself from my presence, that without the technology my nation has developed, the designs of your scientists would have never seen fruition in this decade. Now leave.?

Who the hell is this guy? Redline considered himself street smart and well read, but this Oni guy was taking psychological warfare to a new level. Was this the brains of the outfit? Horst walked away and motioned for his cronies to follow, before he left, Horst came up to Redline Fox and leaned the palm of his hand against his temple, said something unintelligible in German then tried pushing his hand off Redline?s head. Seeing a chance at vengeance, Redline leaned his head back and to the side, which caused the German?s hand to slip off the sweat and down Redline?s face. The German suddenly found his hand caught between Redline?s teeth. Redline bit down with an inhuman force, there was an audible crunching of tendons.
The Asian man laughed out loud, the German wrenched his hand free, prepared to clock Redline Fox upside the head.

?Fuck sheist koff!

A ninja star whizzed past the German?s head and embedded itself in the wall behind him. The Asian man shook his head disapprovingly. Horst, rubbing his hand, barked out for his cronies to follow and they left the room.

?Akihiko you goddamn traitor! Oni? Ha! What happen to Cobra? Can?t pick a side let alone a name!?

The comment had come from the man sitting across from Redline Fox. More players then he had originally thought where asserting their roles in this game. Akihiko must be Oni?s real name. Or Cobra? Whatever. But who was the man across from him? During all this Redline had been attempting to free himself of the ropes binding his hands, but was not having much luck scraping at the ropes with his fingernails. Akihiko stalked around the other captive.

?Now, a traitor you say? Hmm.? Akihiko rubbed his hands then let them fall to his sides. ?But, as a spy for your CIA, I was not a traitor in the midst of my own people, because I fought the good American fight. Truth, justice and the American way Mr. Noman!? He shook his fist in mock conviction.

Noman shifted in his chair, tugging at his binds. He was strapped into the chair with a rope around his waist, where as Redline Fox only had his hands tied. If he so dared, he could stand up. But he waited, watching not sure what was going on.

?You son of a bitch!? Noman spat out. ?Don?t you try that wounded heritage mendacity with me! You where born in this country, now your willing to sell it out for personal gain, is all I see.?

?Talk of selling out? America perfected selling out it?s own people. Like every Japanese citizen during the second World War, like my parents. My last name is Tan, a name given to my parents when they came here, simply to describe the color of their skin! Not their true names.?

Noman laughed at him.

?Save it. Everyone?s been screwed over one point or another in history. Nothing makes you special and your displaced hatred makes you an affront to the people you claim to stand up for. You got some big plans don?t you there Ako. Got some terrorists to do your dirty work for you and all.?

What the hell this a historical lesson on social ethics? Redline sensed an increasing feeling of danger in the room. He didn?t really know or care about what nation had done what wrong or who was fighting for which cause. But whatever Akihiko?s motivations, that was Redline?s enemy. Noman?s voice had a clear ring of truth. Redline may not have been good at much other then driving, but he could sense deception.

Akihiko, ?Nothing more then simplistic lowly terrorists that they are, I regret that I must dispel the idea that they are doing my dirty work. I have my own loyal and overwhelmingly more competent contingent that my will can be exercised through. The communists simply have, how to say, have a mutual interest in working with me. But their goals are far far different and if they become too impetuous, well, they can be dealt with just as easily as yourself and the Vigilantes. Like our snared kitsune over there.?

With a surge of adrenaline, Noman attempted to tear himself away from the chair, managing nothing more then falling over at Akihiko?s feet.

?Now now, control ourselves.? Akihiko reached down and put the chair upright the chair.

Redline saw a metallic glint on Akihiko?s person, but thought it may have just been a trick of the light. Noman?s chair was righted and Akihiko positioned himself behind the prisoner. The short man stood with his hands behind his back and looked across the room at Redline Fox.

?So kitsune, what do you think of all this? I trust that you yourself can relate to my situation. Being asked to sell out his values, told lies by those in the federal government in order that you could be manipulate to their own ends. Of all the Vigilantes, come now, you must hold just as much contempt towards these envoys of deceit.?

A dank chill ran up Redline?s spin. No small part caused by his still damp jeans and lack of shirt, but this Akihiko guy was cool and calculating. Stranger yet, this guy seemed to know something about Redline?s past that very few people knew, and some of those people had been dead for years.

Akihiko, ?Come now, your thoughts would be of great interest to me. Aah, how about I share some information with you. That little girl you found, the one that you protect. Would it interest you to know, that this man here is her father??

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 20

Post by Fnork » Sun Nov 02, 2003 3:30 pm

***********Chapter 20**********

The words did not sink in right off. It was trick of course, just another tactic. Redline Fox thought it was a rather unimaginative one at that.

Redline dismissed the idea, ?Yeah, and here I had you pegged for being capable of something more convincing then that. And for the record, from what I can see, you?re nothing but another criminal looking to take advantage of an impoverished desperate world. It is all just a matter of how you plan on going about your failure that intrigues me.?

Akihiko reached into Noman?s pocket and produced a small piece of crumpled paper. Slowly he unfolded it while clearing his throat, then raised the note to his face.

?In my one hand is a gun. In the other, something, someone to protect.? Akihiko lowered the note. ?Apparently, a rough draft, perhaps the final version was much more inspiring kitsune??

Shock and confusion spun to quickly Redline?s mind for him to avoid giving himself away. His eyes had widened and his breath stopped momentarily. There was no way that they could have gotten their hands on the original note he had found with Jade, that was locked away in his Piranha. And how could they know what was written on the note if they had never read it? Akihiko picked up on this uncertainty immediately.

?Aaah, so, you believe me now I think.? He smiled.

Redline Fox said, ?What does my believing in you have to do with anything? You want my trust, well, what for??

?Trust is a fundamental foundation of any social relationship. And it is also required for one to be taken seriously.? He took a small push dagger out of his jacket; it had two small blades on either end with a longer central blade in the center. It slid onto his hand, the weapon looked more like a punching knife held in a similar fashion as brass knuckles. ?And, I want you to know that I am serious.? Akihiko pushed the tall end of the blade knuckles against Noman?s skin.

Fear crept into Redline?s thoughts. If this was really Jade?s father he could not let this happen. Rushing Akihiko was not the answer, that would certainly turn out bad. If talking was all they wanted, he could make something up of course, but this guy was not stupid and he probably would not buy it.

?So, kitsune, I would greatly appreciate it if you would be willing to tell me where the child could be found. What a shame it would be, what a shame indeed.? He pressed the blade a centimeter deeper into Noman?s throat.

Goddamn it! Just say something keep him talking, you can?t give him what he wants, tell him something he wants to hear.

?Hold it! Listen! Alright man!? Redline?s pulse quickened, ?If you kill him, then what will that solve? If you want me to talk, then I?ll talk damn it. I?ll take...I...?

Noman stared at Redline and struggled to shake his head no. Somehow, he thought, he could hear the other man?s voice inside his head pleading with him to remain silent.

Redline Fox closed his eyes and yelled out, ?I?ll take you to the kid damn it!?

A lie of course, Redline wouldn?t even consider that an option, but maybe he could act it up enough. That wasn?t going to work though, it would not work, what the hell else could he say though.

?If you want the kid, then what good is killing the father going to do? You have my respect if that is what you want.? Redline tried being friendly, ?Hell, I thought it was damn impressive the way you put that ogre in his place.?

?Kitsune, I do not think your perception of the situation is clear enough. Regrettable, I must help you see.?

?Wait a second man...?

Akihido thrust the dagger into Noman?s throat and gave it a quick twist. A loud pop echoed through the warehouse that turned Redline?s stomach inside out. Blood poured out of the man?s neck, he had been instantly killed, his head lulled forward as blood loss drained color from his face.
An ambient red glow filled Redline?s vision as a rolling boil of rage consumed his thoughts. He let out a maddened scream as he pulled himself out of the chair. Grooved sheet metal reverberated his anguished cry back on itself raising its pitch. With reckless abandonment he charged at the Oni. He got with in a foot when Akihiko swung his fist at him, Redline ducked the blow but literally fell into a rising knee that impacted his belly, knocking the wind out of him. Redline Fox laid on the ground coughing uncontrollably, unable to breath.
The Oni kneeled down next to him, with a look of pity and disappointment.

?Respect is not trust, Kitsune I am disappointed, can you not see the difference? Both of us should learn from this. In short time, I hope your mind will change.?

He left Redline Fox laid out on the floor as two of his own personal subordinates came in to collect the crumpled vigilante. Before they took him away, Akihiko ordered them too try extracting information out of him with the truth juice drugs they had mixed. Both bowed before carrying Redline Fox away. Admiring the blood on his weapon, Akihiko found himself disappointed at the course of actions his enemies forced him to take.
Last edited by Fnork on Mon Nov 03, 2003 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 21

Post by Fnork » Mon Nov 03, 2003 3:05 pm

********Chapter 21*********

Owen felt like he had been in the air for days. The space behind the pilot?s seat that he was crammed into was comfortable enough, but nevertheless his legs were starting to get sore from being unable to move more than a few inches in any direction. He looked down at the ground miles below, and saw that it was becoming increasingly green.
?So where the heck are we anyway?? He asked the pilot.
?Alberta, Canada? Fnork replied casually.
?WHAT!? I thought we were going to Wisconsin??
?We are, but first we?re making a quick stop to see some old friends that could be of some assistance. I figured you?d like to see them too. We?ll be there shortly.?
Owen responded with an unconvinced ?Okay?? before leaning to the side to stare out at the landscape some more. Having long since grown accustomed to the barren expanses of the Southwest, this tree-covered land was like an alien world to him.

They landed at an airport near their destination, then rented a 1978 Courcheval Gazelle to travel the remaining few miles. The car was filthy and covered in dents, but had ample power to take them where they needed. They drove for nearly fifteen minutes, and despite Owen?s constant barrage of questions regarding where they were going and who they were going to see, Fnork did little more than grin and say, ?Patience. You?ll see soon enough.?

Finally, they reached a small battery store that looked like it had an apartment built into the rear half of the building. The sign on the front said it was closed for the day, but Fnork pulled the Gazelle into the parking lot anyway. Owen was confused, but followed when Fnork got out and started walking around to one side of the building. As they rounded the corner, they spotted a black Picard Piranha with a white checkerboard stripe across the door, and a large Harvey-Danielson motorcycle parked side by side. Neither was armed, but both had peculiar scratches in the paint where weapons might have been mounted. Upon seeing the motorcycle, Fnork made a comment about ?killing two birds with one stone?, but that only confused Owen even more.

Without hesitation, Fnork walked up to a wooden side door and knocked hard with his fist. The door was unmarked, other than a small faded sign that said ?Beware of Dogs.? A narrow slit at eye level opened, and a voice inside gruffly said, ?Password??, but before a response could be given the door burst open. Owen jumped back in surprise as a giant of a man quickly stepped out and bear-hugged Fnork.

Owen reached for his gun, only to realize that he had left it in the airplane. He was quickly debating what defensive action to take, when the large man released Fnork and started laughing heartily. Fnork was laughing too. The large man turned, and Owen finally got a look at his all too familiar face.

?GrizZz!!? he shouted, ?I haven?t seen you in years! How the hell are you??
?Couldn?t be better, eh?! And welcome to the Mutt Hut!?

The greetings finished several minutes later, and all three went inside where Rude Dog was sitting on an old green couch watching television. He had the volume set excessively high, so they could all easily hear what was being said on-screen.
?You know Batman, she looks kind of pretty when she?s asleep like this.?
?I was hoping you?d notice, Robin. It?s a sure sign you?re thrusting your way into manhood??

Rude Dog was in hysterics, ?Man, oh, man do I love this show! Oh, hey guys.?
He had been on another long bike ride, and stopped in to visit GrizZz a few days earlier. It never took him long to make himself at home. The four of them spent the next few hours catching up on old times, before eventually shifting to more current matters.
?Ya know, things just haven?t been the same since Lightfoot disappeared,? GrizZz said forlornly, ?but we?ve been gettin? by without him. Just wish we knew what happened to him. One day he?s here, the next day he hops in his car and is gone. Crazy shit, eh? Redline Fox said something once about how he saw Light? gettin? into a big fight er something, but he never wanted to say anything else about it.?
?Speaking of Redline, have you heard rumors or anything about him lately?? Fnork asked.
?No, I haven?t heard anything about him in months. Maybe longer than that. What?s up?? GrizZz replied.
?We?re not entirely sure yet?? Fnork went on to tell GrizZz and Rude Dog about Jade and the events since her appearance. When he got to the part about the creeper ambush, Owen interrupted and finished with his own version of the story. This time there were several dozen creepers instead of eight, and he killed all but one of them when he ran out of ammo. Fnork was rolling his eyes while Owen related the greatly exaggerated tale.
?Have either of you heard anything about things like that happening around this area?? Fnork asked, without correcting any of the tale Owen told.
?Well, no one has seen any large groups of creepers like that,? Rude Dog stated, ?but during my rides I?ve heard a few bikers talking about seeing a group of four black cars travelling together. Said they were expensive German cars like Messernachts and Morgen-Bernzes. Real unfriendly types, and heavily armed too. HUGE guns on the cars, the way it sounds.?
?Hmm? this doesn?t sound good.? Fnork said, ?Did your friends know anything about what these Germans were doing??
?Not really, but they seemed to be looking for someone. Some little girl, maybe. Do you think it might be the same kid that Redline found??
?We?ll have to assume that it is. She must be carrying something, or know something really important for these Germans to be after her. Owen, we should be going as soon as possible, just in case they managed to track down Redline while we were gone.?
Fnork stood up, and was quickly getting ready to leave, when GrizZz stopped him.
?There?s something else you need to know about.? GrizZz said, clearly struggling to find the words for what he was about to say. ?HE?s back ?? he trailed off, and all the color faded from his face.
?Who is?? Owen asked curiously.
?You know, HIM?? GrizZz was really struggling now. It was extremely unusual to see him this way.
?He means Death Machine,? Rude Dog interjected. GrizZz flinched at the sound of the name. ?He told me he ran into him a few weeks ago just outside of town when he was??
GrizZz interrupted, then took a deep breath. ?I?m okay now.? He took another deep breath and continued what Rude Dog started. ?I was out for a late night drive in the ?Ranha to clear my head after a long day, when I came to this intersection. I was waiting at the stop sign, and a semi went by. As it passed, I felt a bitter chill run through my whole body, and then there he was, right there across from me, just sitting there. It wasn?t like the Death Machine we knew. Back then you could be near him and not worry because you knew he was on your side. But, the way he stared at me with those red eyes and that white skull for a face, it felt like? like he was draining away my soul. You could almost feel the evil emanating from him. I knew my time was up, and there was no point in trying to run. He sat there for at least ten minutes, just watching me. After a while I couldn?t take it anymore, so I closed my eyes and waited for death? and waited. After a few more minutes, I opened them again, and he was gone. Just like that.? His voice dropped to a whisper. ?I swear I've never been so scared before in my life. I had to sit there for another half hour before my hands stopped shaking enough to grip the steering wheel.?
?But Death Machine is dead. We both watched him die at Oak Ridge.? Fnork said, unsure what to think yet.
?I know that, but I know what I saw too. He was just as real as any one of us.? The color was starting to return to GrizZz?s face, but he was still a little shaky. ?Some other people have mentioned seeing that yellow Palomino too, but just in passing on the road. Nothing like this though. He was after me I tell ya, but why he didn?t kill me I don?t know. If he was trying to scare the hell out of me, it sure worked, eh??
GrizZz was not the kind of person to frighten easily. He was well known for driving into combat with a broad smile on his face. For him to even admit being this terrified meant a lot. He was dead serious about what he saw.
?This is really bad. If there is a pack of Germans running around looking for Jade, and Death Machine is back?? Fnork trailed off. ?We need to leave, right now. Owen, grab your stuff.? He turned to GrizZz and Rude Dog. ?If you see or hear anything, anything at all, even if it seems like nothing, let me know. You know how to reach me.?
Within minutes they were out the door and on the way back to the airport.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 22

Post by Fnork » Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:57 pm

*********Chapter 22**********

The gas station in the small South Dakota town sat alone now. Locals had retired from the few activities they could enjoy for the night. Even the BMX gangs no longer roamed the desolate wind swept streets. With hardly a sound, a black Courcheval Royale pulled up to the pumps. The car's door opened slowly, every sound being carefully suppressed. A Federal agent stepped out of the car and searched for the pumps lock. The only light his sunglasses could reflect where the sad down town street lamps. Locating the pump lock, he walked over, took a set of keys out of his pocket, and after some trial and error with the help of a screwdriver he got the pumps turned back on. A whirr came up through the ground.

He went back to the Royale and began filling the tank. Stealing was not something a Federal agent of his class should do, unless it was absolutely necessitated. Noticing a distinguishing set of tire marks in the sand covering the gas station?s pavement, he bent down to check the tread pattern and width. This car utilized a very expensive tire that?s tread was patented and few people could afford or even knew was on the market. She had come through here he could sense it. He would have to hurry. The players where assembling, the game was already set in motion.

He checked for a full tank with a careful pressing of the handle then hung up the nozzle. Wedging an exact amount of fare due into the lock, he took a look around then hopped back into his car. Driving with one hand and a tape recorder in the other, he spoke into the recorder as the Royale stubbornly accelerated.

?Agent Cole, August fifteenth. Zero, fifteen and zero hours, nineteen eighty-six. Ex-Agent Colleen T., known on the beat as Hell Cat, thought to be heading West on Interstate Ninety. Tail?s lack of speed making keeping up with her moves difficult...?

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Post by Fnork » Wed Nov 05, 2003 2:41 pm

***********Chapter 23*********

The sun had already set by the time they reached Wisconsin, and as they landed Owen could see the bright lights of a large city just to the North, and an expansive black swath a few miles to the East that must have been a large lake.

?Where are we now?? Owen asked, half expecting to be on another small detour.

?Wittman Field, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The large black area you see is Lake Winnebago,? Fnork replied.

They touched down gently and taxied over to a well-lit hangar nearby. The canopy had barely slid open when a silver-haired man rushed over, with an envelope clutched in his hand.

?Sir! I?m glad you?re here. There was a strange old man here about an hour ago that dropped off this message. Said it was urgent. It?s addressed to a F? F?well, I don?t know how to pronounce it, but I thought you might know who it was.? He handed the parcel to Fnork, who crouched down to reach it.

?Thanks, Al. This message is for me. That?s the name I?m known by in the Southwest, among auto-vigilantes.?

He tore open the envelope, and quickly read through the message. A look of concern crossed his face. ?What kind of car was the man driving?? he asked Al.
?Um, it was some sort of compact. I think it might have been a Leprechaun. It was??

??black with white stripes.? Fnork finished the sentence.

He carefully read through the message a few more times, then handed it to Owen, vaulted off the wing and hurried over to a pair of canvas-covered cars parked in the corner of the hangar. Owen watched him for a moment, then looked down at the handwritten note:

Redline Fox is pursued by two great demons, each as deadly as the other.
One, a vision of the future, has ensnared him with its foreign tongue.
The other, a ghost from the past, brings the mechanized hand of death.

If you dare to face them, meet me twenty miles to the South at 22:00.


Owen wasn?t sure what to make of the cryptic message, but it definitely seemed to say that Redline was in trouble. He looked at his watch. The meeting time was just over fifteen minutes away. He was reading it again, when the roar of a powerful Dover engine filled the hangar. He looked up and saw Fnork driving over in a shiny orange Dover Rampage, almost identical to the one he drove years earlier. The only difference was this one didn?t have any visible weapons mounted on it.

?Owen, I have to go. My Fiarello is sitting under that tarp over there. Al can fill you in on all the systems. As soon as you can, head back down to Dante?s and try to find Redline Fox. Don?t wait for me here. I?ll meet you at that airstrip an hour before sunset in three days. If I?m not there by dark, I probably never will be. Godspeed.?

He turned the car towards the open hangar door, and with a loud squeal of the tires was gone.

The traffic was minimal that late at night, so Fnork reached the rendezvous point with a few minutes to spare. When the odometer clicked to indicate the twentieth mile, he slowed and started looking for the black ABX Leprechaun. It was on him almost immediately, and as it pulled up from behind, the driver waved to indicate that he should follow. They drove for almost two full hours when the Leprechaun abruptly turned off onto a dirt road hidden in a cluster of trees. They drove for another mile, when a small garage appeared ahead in the darkness. As the approached, the door opened and the Leprechaun drove inside and disappeared. Fnork hesitated, because based on the size of the building there didn?t appear to be space for two cars. He slowly crept ahead, and as he passed under the opened door, the ground dropped out below into a steep decline. The tunnel they had entered took them more than fifty feet under ground before it opened into a well-lit, cavernous room. Directly ahead, neatly arranged in rows sat over a dozen identical yellow Phaedra Palominos. It looked like an army of Death Machines.

The Leprechaun driver parked and stepped out of his car. He was not very old physically, but the look in his eyes and the way he moved showed that he was aged far beyond his years. He had the look of someone who had been to Hell and back several times.

Fnork stepped out of his Rampage and approached the old man.

?Ax-L, is it really you?? he asked.

?In the flesh. It is good that you came. We have much to discuss.?

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 24

Post by Fnork » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:43 pm

**********Chapter 24***********

?Why have you brought me here?? Fnork asked, looking warily towards the rows of identical cars. GrizZz?s close encounter was at the forefront of his mind.

?There is nothing for you to fear in this place. Death only comes when it is summoned,? Ax-L said, noticing the other?s unease. ?I have brought you here because you wish to save Redline Fox, yet you know not what you must save him from.?

?Your message spoke of two ?demons?. What can you tell me about them??

?The first is a group of East German soldiers, and as my message stated, Redline Fox is indeed their captive. They are highly trained and extremely dangerous adversaries, and they are made even more so by the advanced technology they possess. This is technology far beyond their means, but from where and from whom they have acquired it I do not know.?

?What should I do to rescue Redline??

?For the moment, nothing.? Ax-L watched the look of surprise on Fnork?s face. ?That fight belongs to Redline Fox, Owen, and? the woman. You have already done all that you can to defeat this demon.?

?I don?t understand. I haven?t done anything yet. How can that be enough??

?You have placed a weapon that can destroy them in the hands of one that has the ability to use it. That will be enough.?
Fnork didn?t fully understand or accept what he was being told, but let it go for the moment.
?What of the other ?demon?? You called it a ?ghost from the past.? You don?t mean???

?Yes, it is Death Machine, as you have already guessed.? Ax-L replied.

?Several people, myself included, saw him die at Oak Ridge, years ago??

?It is true, he did in fact die at Oak Ridge, but is also true that he is alive again.?

?How can this be?? Fnork asked.

?Death Machine cannot truly ever die.?

?Are you saying that he?s immortal??

?Yes, from a certain point of view. Legends never die, yet the face behind the Mask of Death often changes.? Ax-L said, as he walked over to a nearby chair and sat down.

Fnork followed his lead and sat in a chair nearby. He was beginning to understand what the other was telling him. Anxious to hear more, he waited for Ax-L to continue.

?There have been many Death Machines in the past, and many great names have served by wearing the mask. It is a way for those that tire of the war to fade away without any fear of being hunted by their enemies. Most have some final, unspeakable task to accomplish, but can not do it without tarnishing their good name, or without provoking retaliation against their friends and allies. Becoming the Death Machine is a way for them to operate without restraints. Often it is the assassination of a powerful creeper warlord, or the destruction of some vital target. Oak Ridge was one of those targets. When their tasks are complete, a new Death Machine is chosen. The chosen one, if they are willing to accept what is being asked of them, leaves everything behind and goes out to duel with death. They are then brought here, where their predecessor and I train them for what they must do. Once we are satisfied that they are ready, they are sent back out, and the predecessor is then free to fade away however they choose. When the Death Machine falls in battle, as has happened on a few occasions, I personally seek out the next chosen one.?

Fnork paused for several seconds, letting what he just heard sink in. Finally he spoke, ?Has he always been nothing more than a fa?ade? Was there ever a real Death Machine??

?Yes, once, there was a real Death Machine, long before your time, in the early days of the auto-vigilante. He was my brother.? Ax-L said, painfully. ?He was an amazing driver and combatant, and his reputation quickly grew into somewhat of a living legend. But, even a legend can fall victim to fate. During a minor battle, a stray bullet from one of his?.allies?.pierced the windshield and struck him in the head. I saw it happen with my own eyes. He did not suffer. No one else knew of his fate, so I took it upon myself to keep his legend alive. I had to, for it was my fault that he died. I fired the fatal shot.?

Fnork listened in silence. He could not even imagine what it would feel like to know that you had killed your own brother.
Ax-L continued, ?For a time, I became Death Machine. The legend continued to grow, and no one ever knew that the real Death Machine was dead. After a time, though, the horrible duty I had undertaken became too much to bear by myself, so I sought out another to help me. He was easy to find, and was eager to help, for he had grown tired of the endless battles as well. He was the one that devised this underground complex, and helped me to draft the rules that would define what Death Machine would and would not do, as well as how each was to be chosen.?

?If you choose who becomes Death Machine, and put down rules for them, why is he after Redline Fox? What did he do to deserve death?? Fnork asked.

?He has done nothing deserving of death, and therein lies the reason I have asked you to come here. You see, when someone becomes Death Machine, they are only allowed to serve for a short time, before the death and destruction they deal out begins to wear away at their minds. In times past, no one was ever allowed to serve for more than a month, two at most. Many completed their duties in a matter of days. But, in more recent times, the number of reliable and capable vigilantes has dwindled, and as a result some have had to serve longer. Much longer than they should ever have to. The current one has served longer than any other has ever done.?

?How long has it been??

?Three years,? Ax-L replied, then continued, ?and in that time his abilities have been honed to perfection. He is more powerful than any of his predecessors, even the original Death Machine himself. No one alive can stand against him. Unfortunately, while his body has become strong, his mind has become exceptionally weak. He has been on the edge of sanity for months.?

?Is that why he?s hunting Redline??

?No, it is not. Even in his madness, he still held true to the most essential rules of being the Death Machine. He will not harm an innocent, and he will not attack those who can not or will not fight back. No, he is chasing Redline Fox for a different reason. His mind has been poisoned. By whom or what, I do not know, but in his weakened state it was not difficult. They have turned him against those he once counted as friends and allies, before becoming the Death Machine.?

?Is there any way he can be turned back to our side?? Fnork asked.

?If there is a way, you must find it quickly. The only other alternative is his destruction. I have neither the strength of body nor heart left to do it . It is a task that you, and only you, can accomplish.?

?What can I do to stop him? Didn?t you say that no one alive can stand against him?? Fnork questioned.

?Yes, I did,? Ax-L stated. ?But you, you possess something that the others do not. Something that even the Death Machine cannot withstand.? Fnork tilted his head in curiosity, listening closely. ?Death that stalks the Earth cannot harm the wind, and cannot stand before the power of the heavens. Will you accept this task??

?I will, but first you must tell me who hides behind the mask.? Fnork understood what he had to do and how to do it, but wanted a final piece of information.

?I had hoped that would not be necessary, for when the time comes you cannot hesitate. You must not stay your hand, even for an instant. It is someone you hold in great respect. You have fought alongside him many times in the past.? Ax-L replied, his voice wavering slightly.

?I will feel much more confident knowing who it is that hides behind the mask.? Fnork insisted.

?Very well, but I cannot tell you,? before the other could object, Ax-L continued, ?I will show you.?

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 25

Post by Fnork » Fri Nov 07, 2003 1:59 pm

***********Chapter 25************

Ax-L lead Fnork around the rows of yellow Palominos to a wide door at the back of the large room. He pressed a button and the door slid open to reveal what at first glance appeared to be a massive underground parking ramp. There was a myriad of vehicles parked in lines, and the layout of the room suggested that there were several tiers not immediately visible. Some of the vehicles were heavily damaged, while others looked as if they were brand new. All of them were armed. It wasn?t a parking ramp, it was a museum.

At the near end of the line sat a shiny white car. It was Nikki, SuiCyco?s famous ABX AMZ. Fnork had never seen it in person, but before the AVA collapsed and the headquarters were closed, he had seen numerous pictures of it hanging from the walls in the lounge. Most showed SuiCyco himself leaning against it, often holding an oversized trophy from one of the many tournaments he had won.

Ax-L noticed him staring at the car, and said, ?As you can surmise, SuiCyco was the first to become Death Machine. He was the one that helped me to create all of this.? A wave of Ax-L?s arm indicated the entire complex. ?You will know many of the names that have worn the mask, while others have long since been forgotten by history. Bob Bitchin, General Rage, Gliebster, Anomaly, Ghost Tiger, Kelly, Podaar, Zaphod, Rockaho, Katana, FukenGruven, Raven, MofoFunk, Diver, Kula Shaker, SpeedDemon, Reverend Ted, King Moist, The Wingnut, Natty Mofo, Trikster? the list goes on and on??

They began walking along the line of cars. Many were highly recognizable, while others bore no distinctive marks whatsoever to indicate the previous owner. As they walked, Fnork turned to Ax-L and asked, ?How did you find the resources to do set all of this up? This complex alone must have cost a rather large fortune.?

?Indeed it did. Long before becoming an auto-vigilante, my brother and I received a considerable inheritance, and when he died, I became the sole benefactor. I could think of no more appropriate way to use it than to resurrect the legend of Death Machine. When SuiCyco came to wear the mask, he donated much of the money he had won in the old AVA tournaments. Many of the others following him donated as well, but even so, there were times when that was not enough. We had no choice but to turn to bounty hunting. We carefully chose when and how to collect on those bounties, and only hunted those who were truly worth the prices on their heads. Because of that, even the most ruthless of creepers could not let their guard down even for a moment, because they never knew when the Death Machine would come for them. The legend of Death Machine grew even greater, and many of those he hunted were so afraid that they had already lost before the fight began.? Ax-L paused for a moment, then continued, ?but there were a few who did not fear even Death. The Wraith personally killed three different Death Machines before finally being destroyed by his own hubris in Las Vegas, as you well know. Would it trouble you to know that a price was once placed on your own head??

?Really?? Fnork was surprised to hear that. ?When did that happen, and who placed it??

?It was many years ago, just before the events at Oak Ridge. A creeper calling himself ?Arc?, of the Millenium Riders, put out a bounty on you, Mustardfoot, and several others. While I never for an instant considered having the Death Machine collect on the bounty, I felt it necessary to discover the reason it had been placed. I arranged a rendezvous with Arc to learn his reasons. He told me that you had wronged him, and caused great damage to himself and his gang, but I knew at once that he wanted nothing more than revenge. I have never felt such intense anger and unbridled hatred in anyone, not even The Wraith. He did not just hate you, he hated himself, and he hated the entire world.?

?Yes, I remember it now,? Fnork replied. ?We exposed him as nothing more than a bully that preyed upon the weakest and most inexperienced victims he could find, so he could boast about the vast number of enemies he had killed. One day he made the mistake of mercilessly attacking a young vigilante when Musty and myself were nearby. We stopped him from making the killing blow, chased him off, and soon learned how he had created such a powerful reputation for himself. Public knowledge of his ?exploits? quickly spread, and he was forced out of his own gang in disgrace. He must have placed the bounty hoping that someone else would collect on it, because he knew he couldn?t do it himself.?

?When I refused his offer and told him to remove the bounty, he went berserk and attacked me.? Ax-L said, ?It was not difficult to avoid his assault, and his rage blinded him. He was completely unaware that I was simply delaying him. When he finally realized what was coming it was too late to flee. Death swept over him swiftly, and struck him down in an instant. Ironically, the one wearing the mask was Easy Rider, the one-time leader of the Millenium Riders. He had stepped down in disgust mere weeks earlier upon discovering the true nature of some of his own men. Sadly, he was also the one that perished in the ambush at Oak Ridge.?

They walked even further down the line of cars, when they passed a parking space that was empty. Fnork stopped, but before he could ask what it meant, Ax-L spoke. ?When someone has completed their service as the Death Machine, they are free to go wherever they wish. The vast majority were already planning to leave before being chosen, so they simply disappear into a new life. Yet, there were a very rare few who chose to return to the life of a vigilante once their tasks were completed. Most of them did not last long, for often the horrors they saw from behind the mask were too much to bear, and they quickly lost the drive to continue the fight. Others, feeling strengthened by what they had been, gave too much of themselves and sought out battles they could not hope to win. The Professional was one of these few, and his newfound feeling of invincibility nearly cost the life of Redline Fox in addition to his own.?

They were approaching the end of the row, and passed a space where a white Clydesdale would have been parked. Ax-L abruptly stopped before the final few cars became visible.

?We are nearing the end now, and soon you will understand what I wished not to tell you. This is the point of no return. Do you still accept the task I have given you??

?Yes, I accept your task.? Fnork replied, though a sense of anxiety was quickly building.

They walked to the end of the line, where the car belonging to the current Death Machine was parked. The elaborate paint job of the blue and white Dover Lightning was unmistakable. Fnork?s jaw dropped, because he recognized it instantly.

It was Thunderbolt.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Post by Fnork » Sun Nov 09, 2003 9:27 pm

***********Chapter 26*************

Minute splinters of wood punctured across the face of Redline Fox as his cheek took much of the impact from his fall. Oni had shoved him through a door and onto the hardwood floor of a dark room. Redline?s vision blurred between blinks, for a moment all he could see was an orange brown streak of light. Not knowing whether or not the room was spinning he took deep breaths and rubbed his eyes with the white shirt he was wearing. Slowing light filtered properly and he realized that the room held a warm glow and the walls where concave. Acrid and spicy smells filled his nostrils as he breathed. Leaning back on his thighs he swiveled his head, his neck muscles relaxed with the popping of tendons. Before he stood up he looked around trying to get a better idea of his surroundings. The room was relatively small and circular. Rubbing his hand across the floor he confirmed that it was indeed made of wood. The walls appeared wooden as well. Oni stood looking down on him with a excited glint in his eyes, behind Oni, Redline Fox could see a transparent set of fragile looking sliding doors. Light flickered in shadow dances on the walls and Redline realized that the slim bamboo stalls he was staring at must have a metallic or ceramic bowls on top which held small fires. Silently Redline Fox stood up so he could see over the platform in front of him.

?What the hell this?? Redline said in shock.

On top of the platform where seven individuals wrapped in a robes of a very airy material. Slight currents of air rippled across the surface of their clothing, they all sat in a lotus position with eyes closed. Their heads, the only visible parts of their body where bald. They sat in a ring around a squat circular table, a large urn in it?s center, that whiffs of smoke and flames rose out of. At three equidistant locations around the urn was a tiny plate that each held some kind of item Redline could not identify.

Oni let out a satisfied breath, ?Aah, my devotes are a magnificent example of loyalty and dedication. That they are.?

Redline ignored the comment, for he was still trying to figure out what the object hovering above the urn was. Was it tied with a string to the ceiling? A look of disturbed confusion came over his face as he realized it was a model of a black on yellow Phaedra Palomino. He suddenly recalled the exchange of words between Oni and the Germans.
Someone else was doing Oni?s dangerous work, Oni called this...someone else...his horseman? That was impossible, no, how could it be? Death Machine? No, that just is not possible! But the pieces fit, but how, what in the hell kind of force was he standing before.

Redline Fox spun around on Oni at the same time he realized his hands had not been bound. ?Why are you showing me this! If your trying too impress me I?ve seen it all man!? That was a half-bluff, Redline had seen much craziness but this was a much different breed.

Oni chuckled with a sinister smile on his face, ?Instead of me explaining, why not a demonstration.? He snapped his fingers.

Redline noticed that the sitting individuals had in no way acknowledged their presence, he considered whether or not he could attack Oni and make a run for it. His body felt surprisingly responsive. If Oni had decided Redline was not as tough as he really was then that was his mistake. With his legs bent, Redline thought that he could give Oni a good kick before the Asian could pull any tricks out of his jacket. Suddenly a cold chill blew into the room, every hair on his body stood on end.

From behind Oni, a tall muscular looking figure with a full face helmet materialized out of the darkness. Behind him a pair of shorter men with purple robes followed collectively holding heavy chains and shackles.

An instinctive feeling of fear alarmed every cell in Redline?s body. The tall figure looked directly at him, disks glowed like bloody stars in the visor, he could feel the real eyes behind the skull like helmet boring into him. Taking steps backwards, Redline readied his body for a fight no matter how afraid he was he wouldn?t back down.

?Death Machine!? Redline Fox spat out, ?What the fuck are you doing here!?

Oni answered in Death Machine?s place, ?He is here by my will. Just like my will shall carve into your mind and find the answers I seek. Sincere that I am kitsune, perhaps you could be of more use then that, but certitude withstanding, we will have to take careful consideration through the process of disecting your mind.?

Redline grit his teeth. ?And, I trust that you already are aware that I will not cooperate.?

Oni smiled and nodded. ?I am glad we are making strides in understanding our mutual sincerity.?

Oni raised his hand and motioned for Death Machine too advance towards Redline Fox. Each step that Death Machine took towards Redline echoed loudly in the small room. With nowhere to go, Redline stood his ground and waited for the monster. Feet became inches all too quickly, Redline attempted to throw a punch and roll away. His right arm came back then swung forward. Death Machine?s hand blocked the punch and held Redline?s fist. Realizing he was caught, Redline attempted to shift his weight in a way that would make Death Machine loose his own balance along with him but instead DM grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him onto the ground. An enraged Redline Fox tried scratching, biting and whatever else he could do to break the hold.

?Go to hell you son of bitch!? Redline yelled without thinking.

Death Machine, ?Hell comes to me Kitty.? A cold vacuum surrounded the air that his words touched.

For a moment Redline Fox stopped moving. What did he just call me? Chains fell to the ground with a thud as Oni?s purple clothed assistants bent down and fastened a fetter around his neck. When the iron cuff clicked into place around his neck Redline once again struggled, every muscle was tense and on fire as he attempted escape. His heel slammed into the crotch of one of Oni?s assistants and the man fell to the ground in nauseating pain. Eventually the second assistant was able to chain Redline?s hands to the ground even as Redline slammed his elbow into Death Machines?s helmet repeatedly. After his chains where secure Death Machine released his grip while the uninjured assistant helped the other stand.
About two feet of chain hung from the iron collar around Redline?s neck, the chain was hooked around a iron loop in the floor, the cuffs around his wrists where of similar length and secured in the same fashion. This allowed him limited movement, which probably was supposed to give him just enough room to thrash about and wear himself out. Redline Fox knew struggling would only serve that purpose so he leaned on his hands, remaining motionless for the moment. Inside of him an indignant rage boiled..

?Hey, Oni...? Redline?s voice was raspy. The cuff was just tight enough that breathing was possible but talking difficult.

Purple cloth swayed in front of him, the two assistants had began circling him.

Oni, ?Yes??

?Earlier, I was thinking about how I?d go about killing that big German. But now, now, I?ve decided it?s you I am going to kill.?

?Is that so? If I only had a yen for every time I?ve heard that one...?

?No, you don?t get it little demon. Recall the lore behind the term that your so found of identifying me by. If a kitsune is treated with respect and reverence great fortune and luck will be your windfall for many seasons. But if a kitsune, discovered within your midst is treated poorly, mocked, otherwise shown disrespect...then plague and destruction will follow you until the kitsune?s rage has subsided.?

Oni was visibly disgusted with Redline?s speech. A man in such a position was either a tremendous fool or exceedingly arrogant to make such threats.

?I see...? Oni tried expressing a lack of interest while he considered his words. ?But you see, even greatest kitsune cower in fear and wait for death at the...?

? the presence of a Oni? Hahaahaha. Akihiko, is the name that we take more powerful then the name that we are given? Silly demon!? Redline found laughing painful with the chain around his neck but knew it would bother this Oni. For sure there was a touch of insanity in Redline?s own mind. ?I?m not one to thrown around promises, but when I say I am going to do something, I do it. Your going to die little demon.?

?Enough of this!? Oni snarled, ?I will not play your foolish games! Rip the location of the child from his thoughts. Now!?

Inwardly Redline Fox laughed maniacally, until the force of pressure on his mind forced his lungs into relinquishing the air in his chest. Shaky giggling sounds filled the small room as the two assistants stopped circling and focused on Redline.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 27

Post by Fnork » Mon Nov 10, 2003 8:42 pm

***********Chapter 27***********

Smooth, rounded rocket tips peeked out from gunmetal launchers. A shadow evenly fell across the dark blue Catamount?s hood. Engine off, the car was parked at the entrance of a tunnel which ran through a rocky hill. The more advanced weapons on the car would not fire without the alternator running, but the spare batteries left plenty of energy for the Fire-True rocket pods that Colleen was prepared to fire into the tunnel once the car she noticed trailing her entered at the other end. The radar in her center console pinged the approaching blip again, who ever had been following her must have been thrown off the trail back among the so many roads that went in all directions around this part of south eastern Wyoming. Now it was directly approaching her.
A large black car glided towards the tunnel, a plume of dust kicking up and blowing away behind it. It slowed then stopped before entering the tunnel, the car?s lights flashed a recognizable pattern over and over until Colleen suspiciously tuned her CB into channel zero-zero-zero.

?What, Cole??

?Good that you are so aware Colleen.? The voice said calmly. ?Could you remove the pressure on the firing mechanism for your weapons, it would make my position much more comfortable.?

She took her fingers off the button on her steering wheel, then eased back into her seat. With a twist of the ignition the Catamount?s 429 roared before settling into a relaxed idle. Whether or not she liked him, she knew he was not here to start a fight with her.

?If you?re after her Cole, then I as far as I am concerned we are enemies.?

?I understand your concern, that you want to protect her, but believe me when I say that is what I want as well regardless of the bureau?s motivations. Prudence dictates that we should find another place to talk and from all appearances we are both heading towards the same destination so perhaps this conversation can be continued once that destination is reached??

Colleen chewed on her bottom lip, but her choices came down to either they act civilly towards each other for a time or engage each other in combat.

She said with annoyance, ?I guess I don?t have to tell you to follow me.?

After switching the CB off she backed the car away from the tunnel?s entrance, turned around and headed away from Cole who followed in turn.
Passing into Laramie?s city limits was a subjective thing, since the limits of the city extended into the open prairie and only scattered groupings of trailer parks indicated population until the city proper came into sight. Both Colleen and Cole noticed numerous Laramie police department patrol cars on either side of route eighty as they neared the exit ramp. Two of the black on brown Ransom Marshall police cruisers where escorting them into town. Previous arrangements had been made by the FBI for Cole to be allowed into town but the presence of a second heavily armed car made the police nervous. Assurances had to be made concerning the validity of Colleen?s CIA status, of course she was no longer actually answering to the agency, but that was not something for the local shield to know. The Laramie police kept a heavy presence on route eighty in order to pursued outlaws away from town. Only Texas technically allowed the arming of personal vehicles, ironically the Texas State Police where the most fervent of opposition towards any vigilante would have faced in Texas. It was also the only state in which vigilantes where jailed and brought up on murder charges. But thanks to the resources of the AVA and AVG all charges where cleared on every individual caught up in the ultra conservative circus of the Texas justice system. Wyoming was a place that had been largely untouched by the civil conflict, but also was a place where many vigilantes and creepers found refuge, many often called it the ?Neutral Zone?. A strong and impartial police force had always helped keep order. For the most part, if you did not cause any trouble while you there, you would not have any trouble yourself. Things seemed to have changed.
After they where escorted into mid-town, the Ransom Marshals flipped their lights off quickly then went back to other duties. Cole pulled his car up to a street front saloon and parked. Colleen stopped in the middle of the street considering if Cole was worth trusting, the government was still after her daughter and the FBI has often served as hand-maiden of seditious interests. Working against him would prove more difficult then working with him right now though and Colleen forced herself too admit that she had always trusted Cole since they had worked together on the Oak Ridge investigation. So she parked her car prepared to follow him into the saloon.
They both noticed how busy the street was. People went about day to day business seemingly relaxed. A bus with Michigan tags was parked across the street, tourists milled around it as their guide explained how they would be visiting exciting relics of the civil war and that the west was still a very wild and unpredictable place. True that was, but tourists only seek adventure and excitement if it can be provided in a nice reasonably safe package. Towns like Laramie would benefit greatly from a boom of tourism.
Cole found the scene a bit disconcerting, the west was still a wild place and he hoped that the ailing travel market had not manipulated people into making a bad decision.

He noticed a white Phaedra Queen Elizabeth and said to Colleen, ?My contact is inside, come, I?ll buy you a drink??

Colleen replied in a dubious tone, ?Yeah, sure...why not.?

A old wooden double swing door was the entrance in, a steel roll down door was above the wooden one that was used for closing shop. Creaks elicited from poorly oiled hinges as Cole and Colleen walked in. As expected locals raised their eyes in an indirect stare upon noticing the clean pressed black suit of Cole and the tan trench coat cowboy hat attire of Colleen. They stood still giving their vision time to adjust. Money for Nothen by Dire Straits was about halfway done on a flashy jukebox.

Colleen leaned closer to Cole and said, ?You ever think that that suit attracts unneeded attention??

Cole said, ?This suit is not what they notice, it is how one carries themselves that is what demands respect. Much like your persona, or the weapons you hide under that coat. Respect, is what keeps a person safe...?

?Cole, shut up alright. You're preaching to the choir and I was a soloist. And that?s a fact...Catholic school until I grew up.?

?Grew up??

They had been making their way across the room when a man sitting near the corner window waved them over. Cole nodded indicating that this was his contact. After seating themselves drinks where ordered. Cole and the other FBI agent engaged in some idle chit-chat about boring topics like weather and economics. Colleen kept a wary eye on the rest of the room, she noticed that fifteen minutes had passed and the two agents had not once brought up anything of significance. She knew that they where feeling out the mood of the room, so she remained patient and kept her own senses sharp.

Cole said in an even tone, ?Anyone listening??

?No,? She said.

Cole gave a gruff acknowledgment, ?Agent Parker, this is Hell Cat, she is working with me on the Ki-D case.?

Parker smiled interested, ?Vigilante??

?Something like that, we are all on the same side after all.? Cole said while giving a sideways glance at Colleen, she scowled at the implication that she was on his side.

Parker, feeling secure enough started explaining the information he had come across since arriving at Laramie. Prosperity indeed was returning to the small backwater city, but both it?s wealth and safety had less to do with the police force and tourism then a secret that the local police wanted kept hidden. A warehouse out in a desolate business district was the center of some sort of black market activity that Parker had not been able to decipher. Cole was quick to ask if the sheriff knew that Parker knew what he knew. Leaning back in his chair Parker calculated all the factors and events that went into answering that question. Reluctantly he conceded that the sheriff probably did in fact know that the town?s secret would not be much of a secret if the FBI main office had been informed.

Cole folded his hands, ?Have you reported back to the bureau yet??

?No, your instructions where wait for your arrival before sending any reports.? Parker was visibly distraught. ?This investigation is a bit over my head I think...?

?Perhaps it is...but only with more information could I judge that for sure. Show me this warehouse before you explain more.? Cole noticed Colleen was staring at the entrance where a group of very large men had loudly entered the saloon.

The large men all had very short hair, black slacks, white button up shirts and combat boots. They bellowed their way up to the bar and demanded drinks all around. Colleen kept her gaze on their backs as they sat at the bar shoving each other jovially.

?This is no longer an acceptable place to continue this discussion. Come, Parker, show me the warehouse.? Cole said as he dropped some money on the table.

Stepping outside, both of the agents realized just how dark the saloon was as sunlight forced them to quickly fetch dark sunglasses from their respective front pocket. Cowboy hat pulled down over her eyes, Colleen had no such need. Which was useful as she was able too immediately notice a tall lanky man with a rather pale complexion looking into her Catamount. She stalked up behind the man and jabbed her tazer into his ribs. The lanky man froze in place and raised his hands.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 28

Post by Fnork » Tue Nov 11, 2003 3:36 pm

**********Chapter 28************

?Hey, hey sorry! Didn?t mean any trouble!?

Colleen spun him around, ?Then what did you mean??

A smile crept across a rather young boyish face. He was probably not out of his early twenties.

?Hey wow, your a lady.? He blurted out.

She looked behind her at the two agents who had just as little idea of what the deal with this kid was. She put her tazer away while pulling the lankly young man away from her car.

She folded her arms, ?Yeah, and what the hell are you??

He pressed his hand against his chest, ?What am I? Well, I?m a Owen.?

Cole tapped his watch and walked towards his Royale?s driver side door.

Owen continued talking, ?This is one sweet car, a Catamount Eliminator right? What you got this baby hooked up with?? He looked past Colleen at the two agents getting into their cars.

?That?s not your business, now get lost.? Colleen said and pushed Owen away from her car.

Something must have been going on that they did not want him to know. So of course, Owen wanted to find out what that was. He did not drive all the way from Wisconsin to miss out on any action. Besides, he was sure Redline Fox and his friends had everything under control. Owen also had a suspicion that the two men with her where Feds. After Colleen got into her car, he ran over to the black Royale and tried striking up a conversation with the driver.

?Hey man, I used to have one of these tanks! It was powder blue...?

Cole lifted his sunglasses off and stared at Owen with cool grey eyes, ?We do not have time for a conversation, here is some money for a drink, why don?t you go relax.?

Owen thought?s got a bit foggy as Cole starred at him, he was a bit tired from the drive, perhaps he should relax instead of taking side quests. But he was normally a marathon driver extraordinare. Suddenly the sound of dwindling exhaust notes came to his ears. The black Royale was no longer in front of him. He looked off down the road and saw the cars disappearing into the distance.

?Awww! Son of a bitch!?

Owen jogged towards the black Fiarello that he had been gifted. He flopped into the driver?s seat trying not to bang his head, he barely fit into the small car even with the seat all the way back. Unsure fingers pressed a button that set off a flare high into the sky.

?Oh shit wrong one!?

The next button he pushed brought up a secondary screen on the radar console. A red blip appeared on the screen.

?Aah, alright tricky Fnork?s car does the trick!?

Meadowlarks twited and fluttered about in the flowing grass surrounding the three cars that had disturbed the ecosystem?s peace by leaving trails in the field. A steady breeze blew dry air that swirled around indifferent chassises that interrupted their natural flow. Far off in the distance, the sun was setting behind the Rockies.
Parker pointed down towards a lonely warehouse that was about a seven or eight miles out of down town Laramie. Cole adjusted the setting on his binoculars for a closer look at the warehouse, Colleen looked through her own considering the distance.

?Place doesn?t look all that heavily defended.? She noted, ?A lot of civilian freight trucks moving in and out. Doesn?t look like the type of place that has something to hide.?

Cole agreed, ?Adding more defensive batteries would attract attention. Having plenty of civilian companies around makes them appear legit and I?m sure they have mutual defense contracts with those companies. If someone attacks the warehouse, any Moth or Freightrunner with a gun would defend their assets.?

Nerves getting the better of him, Parker shifted on his feet agitated as he explained the rest of the information he had come across.

Parker explained, ?I have not been able to confirm this, but remember that group of Germans back at the saloon? Well, they are part of the organization the CIA has been tracking, once they got a hold of the documents after the NSA was assimilated into part of their organization, the existence of what everyone is calling the ?Magneto? generator was quickly looked into more closely. We think that this German group is working with whoever is behind the black market stuff, narcotics especially...?

Cole lowed his binoculars, ?Just because the ATF was assimilated into our bureau does not mean busting a drug ring for media glory is our goal here. We also need to be concerned with the technological proliferation that this group is causing.?

?Yeah, yeah, I suppose? Parker said.

?Parker, I want you to go back to Washington now. Get in your car and drive straight into the sunrise. Those local police will be on your tail as soon as you get on the highway. But you?ve got the interceptor package on that Pheadra right??

Parker was a bit thrown off, but after the weight of what Cole was saying sunk in he felt relieved that he was being ordered home.

?Does your car have the interceptor package?? Cole asked again.

?Oh...yeah...I yeah it does.? Parker stammered out, ?It has a small nitrous shot with a large bottle as well.?

?Do not run the nitrous for too long or you?ll damage the engine.? Cole put out his hand.

The two agents shook hands while Colleen continued watching for any activity. She noticed that the number of trucks in the warehouse yard was rapidly thinning. Glancing at her watch, the time read five o?clock. Closing time for most normal business on a weekend in this area. In her gut she knew a lot more was going on down there then was on the surface. She noted that each corner had a guard tower with a single machine gun mounted on a swivel, probably fifty caliber or seven-sixty twos. As she swept her field of vision from one end of the warehouse to the other a dock door level with the ground opened. A pair of sleek Messernachts appeared first followed by a pair of huge sedans with fixed thirty millimeter cannons.

User avatar
4 8 15 16 23 42
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:34 pm
Location: P3X-888

Chapter 29

Post by Fnork » Wed Nov 12, 2003 2:42 pm

***********Chapter 29***********

?Cole, take a look at this, get over here!? She called out.

His eyes had done all they could to ensure his fellow agents? safety, the white Queen E was making haste, Cole turned away hoping Parker would not hesitate. Putting the binoculars back up to his face he looked for what Colleen was pointing out.

He nodded, ?Chances are good that is the core group of Germans.? The four cars drove out of the defensive perimeter and down a dirt road south away from Laramie. ?Care for speculation on where they are going??

?If they have any leads on the vigilante Redline Fox, then...? Colleen bit her tongue.

Cole was stunned for a moment, ?Did you say Redline Fox? Driver of a blood red Picard Piranha??

She took a deep breath, if trusting Cole was her best option right now, then she would have to accept that fact and explain.

?Yes, Redline Fox the vigilante I choose to keep my daughter safe.? She looked into his cool grey eyes, ?And no, I will not explain way, personal don?t ask.?

Cole stood motionless looking off at the dispersing dust cloud that the Germans had created. There had been a significant gap of information on Redline Fox since 1982, he assumed that the vigilante that he and his partner had double-crossed more then seven years ago in New England had finally quit or was killed. Death records of the best known vigilantes and creepers where almost impossible to attain, since many times, their comrades would claim that the individual was not dead. It was part creating a new mythos part strategy. Thinking someone was still alive that might have a grudge against you or ace driver could be a powerful psychological tactic.
Even though Cole had shot his partner in order to save Redline?s life, then brought the then young man?s battered body back to the Southwest, he knew that a reunion might not be friendly...the fact that the man was still out here in the center of the maelstrom was troubling.
The FBI had cleared Cole of all charges, since they had been aware of his partners criminal intents

Colleen had noticed Cole was deep in thought, ?Do you know something about Redline Fox?? she asked.

?More then I am at liberty to admit.? He looked at her, ?That which I am allowed...?

Low pitched whoomvee sounds suddenly became audible. Both Cole and Colleen looked behind them in time to watch a black Fiarello spin out in the dirt about one hundred yards away from them. Colleen was ready to make a dash for a her car but Cole put his arm out in front of her.

?It?s just that lanky man from the saloon, his intentions are not nefarious...?

She relaxed but felt very annoyed that they had been followed.

?This kid better stepped off.? She sneered while smoothing out her long straight red hair.

Cole smiled, ?Relax let?s see what he wants. If anything, he?s determined.?

The black Fiarello had recovered from it?s moment and rocketed up the hill, Owen slammed on the brakes causing him to skid unnecessarily to a stop. Hoping out of the car with vibrant enthusiasm he clapped his hands and rubbed his belly marveling over the sleek Italian car.

?Whoo! I still need to get used to this baby!? Owen said out loud to himself.

As he walked towards Cole and Colleen he kicked stones with the tip of his shoe. Colleen reached into her holster, Cole was about to prevent her from doing anything rash.

She assured him, ?Not going to hurt him, let?s just test him out??

Owen was about to say something friendly when a pair of Glocks straddled his face so close that the triggers were all that he could see in his peripheral vision.

?Hey, hey! Relax! I?m one of the good guys!? He exclaimed.

Colleen eyed him coolly as she held her arms straight out, ?And how do you know we aren?t the bad guys??

?Well, I?d probably already have been shot dead if you were.? Owen said smartly.

She gave a sardonic smile and lowered her guns.

Owen put his hands on his hips. ?Aah, I get a smile already??

Before anyone could ask Owen how he had followed them he ran over towards Colleen?s Catamount, reached behind the driver?s side mirror then pulled something off. He waved over Colleen as he walked towards Cole.

?Figure I?d tell you both before you ask.? He held out his hand, a small black object in his palm. ?My friend?s car has some great stuff! This little tracking device is fragile though, I lost the signal about a mile before I found ya.?

Cole picked it up, examined it then handed it to Colleen. The sun was setting, a dim yellow glow flooded the sky. Time may be finite, but the day was not. After Colleen handed the tracking chip back to Owen, Owen shrugged then dropped it.

?Eh, no good anymore anyway. My name?s Owen in case you forgot, So, do you need some help? Maybe you can help me? Have either of you guys seen a red Piranha or a black Couche Van?? Owen said. ?What should I call you?

Colleen and Cole looked at each other.

They both said, ?Red Piranha??

Owen folded his arms, ?Yeah, a deep crimson color, like blood, thing is a real beauty. Has the duel cowl inlet hood.?

Cole flashed his badge, ?Agent Cole, FBI. This is, Hell Cat.?

Owen blinked, ?Hell Cat? Hmm, I like that. You a newbie??

?Not really kid.? Colleen said evenly. ?If we are going to act Cole, we need to do it soon before the German wolf pack returns.?

Cole nodded his head in agreement. He looked off down at the warehouse, the last freight truck had just pulled out of the yard so he had to assume the gate would be locked as the place was secured for the night. Flood lights slowly gained intensity giving the warehouse building an eerie glow.

?Owen, tell us what you know about Redline Fox and the capabilities of your car quickly.? Cole said.

Owen was surprised he knew the driver of the Piranha. ?Hey I never said...?

?Quickly now, if helping is what you desire, then educate us about what you have experienced in the last few days.? Cole said in an urgent voice.

Carefully choosing his words, Owen explained his association with Redline Fox and the recent appearance of a small child everyone had been calling Jade. Deep down, Owen was always suspicious of other people?s motives, but he had to get to the bottom of things himself and exchanging information with these two was proving very enlightening indeed. The more they talked, the more he felt like he was on the verge of diving headlong into one of those bigger then yourself situations that only come around when your not prepared.

Post Reply