Kimberly's Run
Chapter Three
By Captainkodak1

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Kim rolled over in her bed with a purr. The evening before with Ron had been wonderful. Her sides still hurt from all the laughing. At one point during the night she had laughed so hard she had to make a quick trip to his bathroom before she wet herself.

Ron completely surprised her. She thought few if any men in the city would have turned her down if she had thrown herself at them as she had Ron. Everywhere she went, whether in uniform or street clothes, she constantly turned men's heads. She saw the looks. She knew she had what men liked and she knew she had it. She caught their looks out of the corner of her eye. Incredibly, Ron, looking her straight in the eye, then down her gown, had turned her down flat. Then, in his own bumbling, charming way, he gave her an evening she'd never forget. The night seemed so special.

She stretched out under her covers as the evening replayed itself in her mind --- no, it was more than special. But, all they did was play 3-D games, watch television and talk. Not exactly the sort of evening she had originally planned or even dreamed that she would enjoy. Although she found herself nestled in his arms, she noticed that he was very careful where he put his hands.

Ron had a strange yet wonderful sense of humor. Somehow, he knew exactly when to say the right thing. They discussed which shows they'd like to watch, but, in the end he ceded to her wishes and they watched most of her favorites.

She felt so comfortable with him, so completely relaxed around him, that later in the evening she found herself nestled up against him, his arm around her. It felt so good; so right. Somehow, she a DS agent felt strangely safe. Here is a place she could be truly free to be herself, and not be judged for it.

The alarm on Kim's nightstand went off, startling her with its insistent beeping. She slammed a fist on top of it to silence it. Lying there for a moment, her thoughts drifted back to the previous evening. The alarm went off again. Groaning, she rolled off the bed, turned off the alarm and headed for her bath to take a shower.

It was first shift for Kim today. That meant her evening would be free. Thoughts of another evening with Ron brought a smile to her face as the hot water cascaded down on her. She slowly moved her hands up and down her flanks, imagining that it was Ron touching her, even those places he had yet to touch.

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The concourse was busy as Kim stepped up to the electric car to ride to work. Passing by the statue of Blair Sterns in the main plaza, she recalled the history class that was mandatory for all.

Sterns was the creator of their world. He was there when "The War for Youth" began.

It all started with a protest against the possible enactment of the Fortieth Amendment to the Constitution. Everyone under the age of thirty knew The Compulsory Birth Control Laws would be nearly impossible to enforce, but that didn't stop most of the nations of the world from attempting to enact them.

The world leaders pleaded with their fellow countrymen that this was the only way to halt overpopulation. The population of the world was skyrocketing. Cities were overcrowded. Urban sprawl was gobbling up precious farmland. Food production had reached its maximum output and water resources were becoming a problem. The problems of waste disposal grew daily. People were starving to death around the world.

Many young people were upset over the Laws, calling them an infringement upon their natural rights. The President delivered a speech over the major networks, calling for peace and sacrifice from all the citizens. He spoke primarily to the younger generations as they would be bearing the brunt of the new laws. Unwittingly, or because he and his aides were completely out of touch with the situation, the speech sent the worst possible message.

Seeing the rotund man on television, calling for personal restraint while he himself had seven children, caused more harm than good. His administration was notorious for its lavish parties, where huge buffets were commonplace, while people on the street were going hungry, having to spend most of their wages to simply get the basics in food. That was when the food was available.

The President was not alone in sending the wrong message. Several other world leaders attempted to speak to their people. Yet all of them were well fed with large families, so their pleas for restraint fell not only on deaf ears but hardened hearts. Resentment was growing into hate.

Randy Lee Jenkins was a seventeen year old teen from Missouri. He along with thousands of other youth from across the country had gathered in Washington D.C. to protest the law. It was the evening of May 2, 2020, Jackson was headed toward the Mall, yelling for everyone to join him in marching on the White House and the Capital, when William "Bill" Anderson, an overweight, slightly drunk, forty-five year old father of four, snarled down at him from behind the steering wheel of his car.

"Hey! Kid! Why don't you brats give us a break? March your spoiled asses on home and go to bed!"

The wrong words at the wrong time and in the wrong place. The War started on that very corner.

Within hours, a large portion of downtown D.C. was ablaze. The President attempted to flee as the Army deployed into the streets. However, it quickly became apparent that the unit commanders were only in control of the mostly older soldiers. The Army's ranks were largely filled with troops approximately the same age of the protestors, and soon thousands of soldiers deserted to join the demonstrators, taking their weapons with them.

The President attempted to flee via Marine One but did not get far. Several former soldiers armed with shoulder-launched surface to air missiles anticipated his move and surrounded the perimeter of the helipad, waiting for him. His helicopter was literally blown to bits seconds after takeoff.

Everywhere in the city, government leaders were pulled from their homes. The lucky ones were shot quickly. Others were hung from streetlamps, trees or anything else tall enough to dangle a noose from. The very unlucky ones were dragged into the streets, doused with gasoline and set on fire.

The revolt rapidly spread across the nation. State and local leaders fled for their lives; those that didn't, died. Some tried to reason with the crowds, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The body count grew with each hour.

Soon the entire globe was caught up in the revolution. As in America, national and local leaders were hunted down and slaughtered. Many were to die slowly and painfully.

Within months the world was young. The reins of power were in the hands of the youth, and they set about making certain that the older generation would never again be able to control their lives.

Over the next several months, the youth of the world discussed, argued and fought over the best way to solve their problems. Out of the chaos came a voice. Blair Sterns, a sixteen year old young man from Omaha, Nebraska, came forward with the idea of sleep and the Thinker. He spoke to crowds all over the world. Wherever he went, he was able to speak the language. Crowds of the young were mesmerized by his words.

Within two years, the Thinker was constructed and allowed to control everything. The nurseries were computerized. Life was easy; there were plenty of food now. Pleasure was the goal of all.

Blair was among the first to embrace sleep at the age of twenty-four. The giant sleep shops were set up and the first groups of DS units were formed.

Kim stared down at her red palmflower. Red was the color of an adult. Newborns to five years old had clear flowers. Children, ages six to eleven years old, had blue flowers. Green was the color of those who were twelve to seventeen years old. These were the teen years, where one learned a trade and prepared to take over from those who embraced sleep.

At the age of eighteen, the palmflower turned red and stayed red until one month before one turned twenty-four and then one's flower started to flash red and black. The flashing was slow at first and then faster as the age of twenty-four approached. When one became twenty-four, the flower turned black. Those who did not report for sleep by then would be hunted down by the DS units.

Kim stood to get off the car and approached the automatic door. She waited for the door to open, but it never did. It just sat there humming, until finally there was a flash of sparks and the smell of burnt wiring. A computer voice came from the speaker above the door.

"Please use another exit. The car will wait an extra thirty seconds for you to exit."

Kim turned and stepped out of the next door. Just as the car started to roll again, the door she had been waiting at finally opened. Alarms went off and the electric car jerked to a stop. Kim shook her head. Maybe the Thinker woke up on the wrong side of the motherboard this morning.

The precinct headquarters for her DS unit was a short but formable looking building. She started up the steps when she saw Blake 6 coming toward her. His uniform was nearly shredded. One arm was covered in medi-foam and his face had a number of medi-pads on it. He feigned a smile as he saw her coming toward him. She looked him up and down.

"What the hell happened to you?"

Blake grimaced.

"It was the cubs. They set a trap for David 10 and me. We were tracking a couple of runners working in tandem. They headed for the Cathedral. Then they disappeared off the scanners. We figured later that the cubs had gotten them and were waiting for us. We were checking what was left of the bodies when they attacked. They were all on Muscle. We were lucky to get out alive. If we hadn't been carrying extra nitro and ripper rounds we wouldn't have been able to get out. I have no idea how many we killed. We just blasted our way out. William 2's waiting for you. The commander wanted the two of you to patrol around the Cathedral for today."

Kim rolled her eyes.

"Oh, joy. He's hard enough to deal with on a normal day. Now I'll have to think about who I might want to shoot first: Will, or the cubs."

Blake smiled, patting Kim on the shoulder as he walked on.

"Awww. He's just jealous. You're getting to be the best DS agent in years. You're a natural."

Kim grinned as he passed.

"I'll remember that when my performance review comes up and he has to write it."

She turned and headed up the steps of DS headquarters. The sliding doors opened as she approached. Just as she entered, the doors started to shut. Kim had to move quickly before she got caught in them. She turned around and stared at them as they slammed shut behind her. Shrugging her shoulders, she walked across the foyer, waving at Tara 10 sitting at the reception desk.

"Hey, Tara. What's the deal with the doors?"

Tara smiled as she sat back from in front of her videophone.

"I don't know. They started to act up this morning. I guess the Thinker is too busy elsewhere to send a repair crew. I hear you got the rough duty today."

Kim groaned and rolled her eyes.

"Don't remind me."

Tara batted her eyelashes at Kim then grinned.

"That's not all I hear. It seems that a certain female DS agent has been seen with a very special member of the Pleasure Palaces staff. He even made a special cake just for her and had it delivered to her apartment. I also hear she spent a lot of time at his apartment."

Kim's face rapidly turned the shade of her hair.

"Just… just how did you…?"

Tara leaned forward.

"Don't worry, Kim. I was just playing you. Monique and I went shopping the other night and had dinner. She seemed to be hiding something, so I slipped her a drink. She spilled all."

Kim put her hands on Tara's desk and whispered to Tara.

"Tell Monique that unless she wants me hunting her that she'd best keep certain things quiet."

Tara giggled.

"Oh, don't worry. When she figured out what I did, she wasn't happy. Anyways, I know all about Ronald. I've even used his services on occasion. I must say that he is cute. Maybe I can give you a run for your money."

Kim laughed shaking her head.

"No way, girl. He's all mine, so hands off."

"Eyes are okay, though," Kim added, patting Tara on the head as she turned and walked over to the crew door. As she approached, a voice came out of the speaker above the door.

"Identify."

Kim placed her hand on the pad next to the door.

The light over the door turned green.

"Identified. Kimberly 5."

The door slid open and she walked into the headquarters section. She walked up to the main duty desk and placed her palm down on the sign-in plate. A screen in front of her came to life.

"Kimberly 5, on duty. Special assignment: Cathedral."

Kim sighed.

"W-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l…"

"Kimberly, let's move!"

Kim spun around to see William 2 standing up the hall.

"We need to get armed. We're cleared to carry extra munitions. I suggest several Nitro rounds, a few blister rounds, and a few ripper rounds. We'll carry the standard tangler, vapor and homer loads."

Kim nodded and pulled a load belt from its hanger. Then she stepped over to the armory and picked up the rounds she would need to carry for the day. Will stood beside her and did the same. When they were finished, they walked down the short armory hallway to the gun wall. A glowing electric eye regarded Will for a moment and then a voice spoke:

"Identify."

Kim placed her palmflower on the eye of the pedestal in front of her. Will did the same on the pedestal next to her.

A door slid back to reveal a number of pistols hanging on their racks. Two had green lights glowing over them. Kim pulled her pistol from its rack and shoved it into her holster. Will pulled his pistol free of its mounting, checked it, and then placed it in his holster. Both of them stepped back from the pedestal and turned to walk back up the hallway. The voice came over the speaker again.

"Identify."

Will rolled his eyes and kicked one of the pedestals. The electric eye blinked and the door to the guns slid closed.

"Guns accepted. William 2. Kimberly 5. Be careful out there. Be careful out there. Be careful out there."

Will kicked the pedestal again. The light over the door panel blinked again.

"Be careful out there. Have a nice day."

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Kim and Will walked down the concourse near Cathedral. Few people ventured into this part of the city. Never completely rebuilt after the war, this section soon fell into disrepair. The area was named for a large building where it was said that people used to gather together to do something called worship. No one really knew or remembered what went on there.

Cubs --- runaway kids who lived by their wits or brute strength --- controlled the Cathedral section. DS agents did not take the cubs likely. The year before, a full squad of heavily-armed DS men went in to try and clean up that part of the city. Somehow the cubs found out they were coming. Twelve DS agents went in. None came out. Kim had been seeing one of them: Walter 6. Kim held a personal grudge against the cubs after that. Maybe that was one reason they sent her on this mission.

Kim and Will stayed several feet from each other in case the cubs tried leaving the Cathedral area and attacked. They had not gone far when their commscanners went off.

"Kimberly 5. William 2. Runner, Dalton 3, headed your way."

Kim pulled her commscan from her belt and put it to her mouth.

"Acknowledged. Send ID data."

Both commscanners beeped and a picture of the runner appeared on their screens. The man was tall, at least six-two, with dark brown hair.

Will spoke into his commscanner.

"Give us the track."

Kim looked at her scanner and the screen displayed a map of the area with a red glowing dot indicating the position of the runner. The two green dots were the two DS agents.

Will turned to Kim.

"First kill pays the bill."

Kim pulled her gun from its holster.

"You're on."

Kim took one hallway. Will took the other. She watched her scanner, following the runner's trace. His signal began to fade in and out. Kim swore. The runner knew areas where the scanners could not trace him well. They would have to do this old style, by pure instinct. She moved into a darker section of the concourses. Mainly used for storage, few ever ventured down here now unless it was absolutely necessary.. Kim settled into a dark alcove to wait and listen. Pulling her commscan out she scanned for the runner and Will. A scrambling sound above her caught here attention as a metal spear arrowed down beside her, smashing her commscan from her hand. She jumped out of the alcove as several spears of metal slammed to the floor where she had been standing. She heard children giggling and laughing.

"Sandman, Sandman
Leave my door.
Don't come back
Any more.
Sandman, Sandman
If you stay
A Sandman, Sandman
We will slay."

'Great,' she thought. 'Cubs. Just what I need.'

The remains of her commscan lay on the floor, smoking and spitting sparks.

Moving out up the concourse, Kim heard a shout and broke into a run. She saw the runner in the distance running for the bridge in the distance. She hesitated for a second then turned to check on William 2.

As she turned a corner, Kim spotted Will leaning against a pillar, rubbing his shoulder.

"Damn scanners not worth anything down here. He got the jump on me and headed toward Cathedral."

Kim looked around.

"Well, right now we have our own problems. The cubs are out and are probably tracking all three of us. If he thinks he's going to make a break over the bridge he's in for a nasty surprise."

Will stood and moved ahead.

"Let's get him before they do. It wouldn't look good for them to get him and not us."

Running down the corridor, the two DS agents broke out of the section just at the bridge. They stopped to see the runner already crossing. Kim's sixth sense told her to jump. She pushed Will one direction and leapt aside the other way. A split-second later a large piece of concrete smashed to the floor where they had been standing.

Will stood and looked across the bridge as the runner broke into the open. Kim raised her gun to fire when she saw the flickering shapes.

Will shook his head. Placing his hand on her gun, he pushed it down.

"Save your round. The cubs have him. They have Muscle."

Kim cursed under her breath at the idiot scientists who invented "Muscle." An aerosol drug breathed in from a pad that was originally developed for the Army to give its soldiers super strength and speed. It also sped up reaction time. However, all of this came at a price. The heart and lungs did a week's worth of work in just minutes. The body aged quickly on Muscle. Only the young could use it.

Dalton was knocked to the ground from a fist of a ten year old boy. The blow struck him like sledgehammer. Small knives flashed about him, taking slices out of every portion of his body. Bones snapped from repeated blows. The cubs were playing with the runner, taking him apart piece by piece.

The fleeting shapes continued to move around Dalton as he lay on the ground. Kim and Will nodded to each other and loaded nitro rounds. They fired simultaneously, the twin explosions shredding a number of the cubs while the rest retreated.

Will and Kim walked across the bridge and cautiously approached the body of the runner. Blood oozed out over the cobblestone pavement. Will motioned for Kim to move forward.

"You do the body check. I'll cover you. Put a ripper in and don't hesitate to use it."

Kim nodded and loaded the ripper round on her gun. Slowly approaching the runner's body, she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. In one sweeping motion she turned and fired. The ripper round lived up to its name and three more cubs were turned to bloody pulp by the round.

Loading another ripper, Kim knelt down beside the body. He was still alive. She quickly checked his pockets. They were empty. Prying open his hands, she found a small metal object in his right hand. Suddenly he grabbed her with his left hand and groaned.

"Sanctuary…"

Releasing his grasp, the runner's head fell back and he gasped his last breath.

Kim stepped back a few feet and exchanged the ripper round for a blister shot. She fired the blister shot into the body and watched as the acid melted the body to a liquid mush. She replaced the ripper round and retreated to where Will stood on the bridge. Together they backtracked over the bridge and up the hallway. Turning, they strode quickly from the area with the ripper rounds still on their guns. When they reached the main concourse, Will leaned against a post and tossed Kim his commscan.

"Report in while I take care of my shoulder."

Kim took Will's commscan and reported in.

"Kimberly 5. William 2. Runner Dalton 3 killed by cubs. William 2 slightly injured. Approximately ten cubs killed. Kimberly 5 out."

Kim called up the statistics on Dalton to see if there was anyone she might need to interview. Dalton's record came up on the screen.

Dalton 3

- Born in State Nursery 25.
- Moved to State School 25 at age six. Education standard.
- Discipline problems with authority.
- Sent to Trade School. Expert in electronics with certification in computer and electronic programming and repair.
- Joined City Maintenance Staff at age 18.
- Suspected of assisting runners.
- Arrested twice for hindering DS agent on hunt.
Three friends:
-Jesse 8, City Maintenance
- Brenda 12, City office
- Ronald 7, The Pleasure Palace.
- Ronald 7 best known friend. Ronald 7 suspected of assisting Dalton 3 but has not been confirmed. Ronald 7 under surveillance.

NOTENOTENOTE

Ronald 7 confirmed as relationship with DS Agent Kimberly 5. Surveillance on Kimberly 5 showed no problems. Surveillance discontinued.

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Kim gasped and her face turned white. Ron was suspected of helping runners? She thought back at the times he had been around. There was almost always a runner involved. Was he really helping them? Was he using her? She had been under surveillance. She shook her head to clear her thoughts.

'No!' Kim thought. 'Ron wouldn't do that. He isn't like that.'

"Anything interesting on our boy?"

Kim spun around to see Will standing, there rubbing his arm. Kim cleared the screen and shook her head.

"Nope. Standard stuff. He seemed to be a loner. No real friends it seems. I'll check a little further. Let's get you to the infirmary and get that shoulder looked at."

Will stared at Kim as she took his arm and helped him up the street. She was being nice all of a sudden. What did she really see in Dalton's records? What caused her to gasp and then try to cover it up? Will thought to himself to check Dalton's records for himself when he got the chance.

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Kim left Will in the care of the infirmary. She walked into the debriefing room and placed the objects she had taken from Dalton on the scan table. The scanner head started and surveyed the items for a number of seconds. The scan head turned off. Kim reached for the items to take them to storage.

"Kimberly 5. Approach station and identify."

Kim jumped. The computer seldom spoke. She hesitated for a moment.

"Kimberly 5. Approach station and identify."

Kim slowly walked toward the chair that faced the screen at the far end of the room. She took the seat, the keyboard in front of her and placed her hand on the pad on the chair arm.

The screen in front of her flickered for a moment and then displayed:

'Kimberly 5 – identified."

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Will waited for Kim to come out of the debriefing room. She had been in there for quite awhile. The door opened and Kim marched out, clearly angry. Will stepped beside her as she strode toward the door.

"What's wrong?"

Kim glared back at him.

"The Thinker blamed me for letting the runner get away. Said I should have left you and gotten the runner. I got docked pay because of it and a reprimand on my record."

Will stopped as Kim strode past him and hit the door so hard that it slammed against the wall. She stormed out of the building leaving him standing there watching her. He turned back into the offices and found an open computer station. He called up Dalton's records.

Dalton 3

- Born in State Nursery 25.
- Moved to State School 25 at age six. Education standard.
- Discipline problems with authority.
- Sent to Trade School. Expert in electronics with certification in computer and electronic programming and repair.
- Joined City Maintenance Staff at age 18.
- Suspected of assisting runners.
- Arrested twice for hindering DS agent on hunt.
Two friends:
- Jesse 8, City Maintenance
- Brenda 12, City office

Will cleared the screen. What had Kim seen that caused her to act so funny? He rubbed his shoulder where he had been hit. Typing in another command, he called up Kim's records on the incident today.

Dalton 3 Termination

Flower blacked at 12:30 and appeared on scanners.
Kimberly 5 and William 2 assigned to intercept.
Cubs hindered William 2 but he returned to hunt.
Kimberly 5 left hunt to assist William 2 in violation of Article 3, Section 2.
Dalton 3 escaped over bridge to Cathedral area and was killed by cubs.
Kimberly 5 searched body and found body clean.
10 cubs killed.
Kimberly 5 found in violation of Article 3, Section 2.
Salary docked for one day.
Level Two reprimand on official record.

Will let out a low whistle. No wonder Kim was upset. The docked pay was one thing, but an official Level Two reprimand could hurt even more. That could blow any chance at a promotion next time she was up for one. She could be passed over by agents that were subordinate to her now. Kim would have to have a perfect record for quite awhile to recover from that.

Kim had helped him and got busted for it. This could lead to an opportunity. One more mistake like that and she might as well quit. They would barely let her clean up after a termination after that.

Will smiled to himself as he shut down the terminal. This was shaping up to be a great day.

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I hope that all of you are enjoying the story. The plot continues to build as Kim and Ron grow closer. What is Ron doing? Is he really spying on Kim? What happened to Kim? What is Will going to do? So many questions and so much story to tell.

Please leave a review. I would appreciate it. Just let me know how you like/dislike the story.

Thanks for reading.
This is the Captain
Right hand salute
Over and out.