How are you my fellow Killjoys? Here is the promised update, Part II.
I HAVE SEVERAL IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS!
THE FIRST IS: As you guys know, I challenged you, my readers, to take one of the chapters of this story and expand it into a full blown story. Motorbaby accepted the challenge and took up the mantle for Kobra Kid's chapter.
HERE IS THE INFO:
Story: "Living Nightmare"
I am going to be pushy now and ask that you guys head over to her profile and read it. It really is awesome, I kid you not. I am incredibly happy and amazed at how she was able to expand on the idea and write it so well. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
On a similar note, another of my good friends, Shinn Asuka-Destiny's Warrior has also posted her own story. Her character plays an important part to the sequel of this story. Again, I give it my highest recommendations! It's worth your time I promise!
HERE IS THE INFO:
Author: Shinn Asuka-Destiny's Warrior
SECONDLY: I am pleased to announce that the sequel to this story is in the works. In fact, it is titled "Keep Running" and will be posted soon after this final chapter! Check it out :)
THIRDLY: Thank you to all of you that have submitted Killjoys (I have received over 30!). It really was a pleasure to "get" in your heads and see how colorful your views of the Dangerverse are! All the Killjoys submitted are introduced in this chapter :D
LASTLY: Review replies are in order and long overdue. Here we go ;D
Rilakuma: Thank you for all your reviews and support! I love reading what you have to say :)
killjoyXscreamersilent (for some reason FF won't let me type out your full username :/): Thank you for your amazing reviews :) They keep me writing! Here is an update, as requested ;D
terrablaze: You are most absolutely forgiven XD No need to apologize ;D Thanks for leaving a review!
sariin: Great idea! It's good to vary the ages of the Killjoys :) I have included you character in this chapter!
Ra MayKaizen: Thank you so much for that great review. I'm glad that my writing can be so powerful, that's what I aim for! I'm sad for the ending too, but thank you for sticking with this story until now :) I hope you enjoy this chapter!
xlegnAkraDx: Thank you, thank you so much :) Your review made me smile! And yes, Na Na Na was made to be nonsensical and random, that's what makes it so great and genius (go Gerard!), but my mind just took the ideas, strung them together into a plot, and I just ran with it XD And yes gigolo is a term I learned recently so I decided to use it, it really does fit Kobra Kid. I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Night: Thank you for the review! I hope you enjoy this chapter as well :)
Shinn Asuka-Destiny's Warrior: Thank you :) Yup, Kobra Kid learned a lot of his moves from Sugar Fiend ;D
chaosbulldog: Thank you for your awesome review! I always love hearing from you ;) I'm a staff member of another community and I think you can add a story by going to any chapter in that story and there should be an option to add it to the community either at the bottom of the page or on the page that pops up with the review button thingy. Thank you for trying, I hope that you can add both stories mentioned above (and, *shameless plug* the sequel to this one).
KilljoyRAWR: Wow thank you for reviewing! I enjoyed reading your comments :)
AvidPeep: Thank you for sticking with this story :)
Five Times Someone Saved Party Poison...
And One Time They Couldn't
"This is how we're going to get in," Party Poison states, pointing at the roughly sketched map.
Dr. Death Defying peers at the place that Party's finger is pointing.
"You're going through a tunnel?"
"Yeah. We'll take the Trans AM… Have you been able to contact any of the other Zones?"
Dr. Death looks away, jaw tight, "I haven't been able to contact anyone. Not since you left. All the lines are down…" Fear creeps into the pirate radio DJ's voice, "They're jamming the signal…We're alone... Every Killjoy out there is."
The words are solemn and the implications of what is going around them their world is practically breaking down weigh heavily on all of them.
But their mission is clear, clear in the renewed purpose to Party's movements, in the light resolute and strong that shines in his eyes.
Fun Ghoul observes his friend and leader closely, watching for any signs of pain.
That he and he alone knows the extent of Party's condition is overwhelming and he wonders if this is what Party feels constantly, if he carries this burden this need to protect, to guard, to save as heavily as it seems to rest on Ghoul's shoulders.
He frowns at the thought.
"I know what I'm asking of you," Party begins suddenly, and instantly he has everyone's attention.
"I know what I'm asking of you," Party repeats, playing with the hand-drawn map before his eyes look at each of them in turn, "I know…I know the risks. To all of us. To everything and…"
Words fail him then, and Party can no longer hold their gaze.
But he doesn't need to.
Fun Ghoul's hand falls on top of his, stilling the nervous fingers.
"We'll get her back."
Kobra's hand falls on top of Ghoul's, Jet's on top of Kobra's, actions of a shared and unspoken promise.
Dr. Death feels fear. Fear for the Killjoys out there, alone. Fear for Missile Kid and whatever must be happening to her at this very minute. And fear for the four men before him, men whom he's grown to admire and respect and love like brothers, family in this wasteland of a world.
He feels the terror, knows what the most likely outcome of their mission will be.
This could be the last time that he has with them and he'll be damned if he wastes it.
"I'm proud of you boys."
Dr. Death Defying is not a man who shares his feelings, however strong, easily.
So the open admission, the raw and rough edge to his voice…
"Thank you," Each of them choruses in their own way.
Party Poison stands then.
"Let's take two hours to eat and rest. And then…"
"Then we take her back," Kobra Kid finishes.
Fun Ghoul takes a moment to organize his meager belongings.
He'd been able to rescue only a few things, only able to cram a few memories into a bag before having to evacuate.
The frame in his hands is cracked.
But it holds a priceless picture, himself, Jamia, Cherry and Lily.
He strokes the glass and feels warm, complete.
And he knows he's ready for whatever may come.
Jet Star fights the urge to scratch at the eye patch that covers his left eye.
Dr. Death had said that it was only for precaution, to keep the sand and grit of the desert out of the healing cuts.
He occupies his fingers in another way, taking hold of the stuffed animal that sits on his bed.
It's a giraffe, Krista's favorite animal, and he strokes the fur, however worn and matted, with gentle fingers.
It feels strange to be able to see out of only one eye.
Yet he feels it doesn't matter. Soon enough, they'll have Grace back. And that's as far as he allows his thoughts to travel.
Beyond that lays a deep chasm of uncertainty, and he grips the giraffe harder, using it as a tether to his courage, a reminder of everything he's lost and what he knows he must now fight for.
Kobra Kid slowly unwraps his bass, shedding the cloths he'd sown himself to protect the instrument from the heat and the dust.
He allows his long fingers to run the neck, the slight grooves on the metallic strings familiar.
He experiments with some chords, some riffs, light and playful, not at all serious before he really gets into it, playing bits and pieces of songs painful to remember.
Painful in the way they bring back memories of a previous life, a life where their music was one of the biggest parts of their world.
And yet the pain yields, surrenders to the warmth of other recollections, ones that shine, Alicia, their wedding, their band, success and triumph, happiness.
His fingers still of their own accord, no longer frenzied across the strings, as soft notes fill his ears.
He'd been hearing Party humming the tune for weeks now, muttering the tentative lyrics.
"Sing it out, boy you've got to see what tomorrow brings…"
The first thing that Party does when he steps inside his room is to lock the door.
Then he begins.
His gloved fingers carefully but quickly unpin the pictures on his walls.
He makes sure to tear the paper as little as possible, placing the pieces he has taken down into a haphazard pile on his desk.
He pulls Missile Kid's pictures last, and places them on top. That way she'll know that he's leaving the drawings to her.
He takes a few moments to gaze at the black and white portraits he's drawn of Lindsay and Bandit and Grace, of his three brothers, of Dr. Death Defying and Show Pony and all the other Killjoys he's met so far.
Chiaroscuro depictions of what was and what remains, what was lost and what still needs to be saved, and protected.
Last, he reaches into his drawer and pulls out the bottle of BL/Ind. pills.
His side has started to throb again.
Party Poison slips out two more pills and swallows them dry.
It's time to speak to Dr. Death.
When Dr. Death Defying hears a noise behind him, he swivels around in his wheelchair quickly, half expecting a Draculoid.
Instead, Party Poison is standing there, two things bundled in his hands.
The first is easy to accept.
Dr. Death recognizes it as the small tin box that holds the codes for the two emergency calls.
Two separate wires connected to BL/Ind. Communication lines that would self-ignite within minutes of use.
"You'll need to gather up all the Zone leaders. Discuss what to do next."
Dr. Death Defying simply nods, he doesn't really want to talk about this, doesn't want to hear the finality and farewell combined in Party's voice.
"I won't take that, Party," He says finally, nodding towards the yellow bandana in the red-haired Killjoy's hands.
Party Poison just smiles at him, folding up the cloth neatly before placing it on Dr. Death's desk.
"For Missile Kid then."
Show Pony usually looks forward to loading up the Trans AM.
He looks forward to packing the things he knows the Fabulous Killjoys will need on their journeys; always arranging all the Power Pup labels to face one side, stacking the canteens and water bottles neatly.
But now, all he's loading are gas cans and battery ammo.
He knows they'll need nothing else.
Party Poison is the first there.
He tapes a picture of Missile Kid to the dashboard and then gets out of the Trans AM, leaning against the driver's door, wondering and dreading if he'll have to go inside and get the others.
They come to the car of their own accord, Jet Star and Fun Ghoul sliding into the back, while his brother takes the seat next to him.
Dr. Death Defying and Show Pony only come as far as the door to the Diner.
It's clear neither man wants to say goodbye.
Show Pony holds up both his hands, thumbs up, a sad smile on his face.
Dr. Death gives them a firm salute.
They drive silently, passing by Zone marker after Zone marker, stopping only to fill up the gas tank with the cans Show Pony had stashed in the trunk.
The quiet is pensive, not uncomfortable.
Party's side is numb, and he feels no pain.
"Pack up the van, Show Pony. I'll see if I can get in contact with Hyper Noise. We're going to need a driver."
Show Pony obeys wordlessly, roller-skating out of the room.
Dr. Death Defying takes a moment to look around, letting his eyes rest on the gigantic black widow that covers the opposite wall.
The flag of the Fabulous Killjoys.
He won't fail them.
Whatever happens, he'll see to it that Missile Kid lives.
The entrance to the tunnel is unguarded.
BL/Ind. is overconfident in its defenses.
That or they're driving straight into a trap.
He glances to his brother, then back to Fun Ghoul and Jet Star.
They seem just as determined as he is, just as willing and ready to say that the aftermath is secondary if only the future can be bulletproof once more.
The security check booth is coming up ahead, and he steps on the pedal.
The Scarecrow reading the newspaper looks up once, catching sight of the incoming Trans AM on the second glance.
He stands immediately, the Draculoid behind him doing the same, drawing their ray guns.
They fire only twice before Party drives the car straight through the security barrier, straight through the two drones.
The red-haired Killjoy chances a look back, just in time to see the downed Scarecrow reach up and press the alarm button.
"Ma'am, they're advancing through the southwest tunnel entrance."
Airi Isoda steps forward, peering at the screen that the Draculoid is pointing to.
Missile Kid's ears perk up at the sentence, but she keeps her head down, calm, as she plays with the blue ball they'd given her.
Blue had been her mother's favorite color.
"The color of the ocean," She'd said, "The color of water, of life."
She'd shared her mother's liking until she'd died.
Now she hates the color.
Isoda keeps her arms crossed. She has to do nothing. The procedures for such break-ins and attacks are already in place, the Draculoid and Scarecrow units already gearing up to face the intruders have rehearsed them countless times.
The plan is simple.
Korse's words ring in her ears, "Let them come inside. Let them grab the girl. Let them believe that they have a chance and then, when the time is right, signal my chambers, and I will end it all."
Party Poison swerves the car to a standstill just a few meters away from the main southwest entrance.
He steps out and the others follow.
Missile Kid can only listen as Airi Isoda gives out more orders, the woman's voice quiet, as if she didn't want her to hear.
From her position on the ground, she can barely see past the white shoulders of the Draculoids. And yet, the tiny colorful flickers on the screens that she can see ignite hope.
Enough for her to look up at the cold Asian woman and give her a triumphant smile.
The woman only returns an obviously forced and ugly grin before looking away.
The Scarewcrows and Draculoids guarding the entrance don't stand a chance.
Party takes out the first two, on either side of the door.
Kobra Kid wipes out the Draculoid behind them, and Fun Ghoul takes care of one coming out of the shadows, no doubt trying to flank them.
They advance quickly and efficiently, their opponents no match for the single-minded drive that pushes each of them to their best.
For a moment, Airi Isoda ponders staying to fight.
Her blade is in her hands, preparation to defend the company that she is blindly loyal to.
But those are not her instructions.
And she cannot defy orders.
So, upon hearing the approaching footsteps of the men who are no doubt the Fabulous Killjoys, she removes herself from the scene, leaving the Draculoids and girl behind.
Fun Ghoul goes into the room first, blasting away the two Draculoids sitting at the monitors in rapid succession.
Kobra Kid and Jet Star stay at the door, keeping an eye on the numerous hallways and Party Poison…
Party goes in quickly and Missile Kid runs to him and he drops to his knees, taking her into his arms and hugging her tightly.
Her hands wrap around his neck, clutching him, slightly shaking from the fear and uncertainty.
Because she knows, somewhere inside, hidden away, that them coming to get her…
Every rescue, every salvation has a price.
Maybe Party senses it, maybe he knows what she's thinking, what she fears because he fears it too. Because with them gone, who will protect her then?
His eyes fly open with the realization and he stands quickly.
"We need to go."
Airi Isoda knows that it is time.
She takes the communication device into her hand, flipping the switch that will alert Korse to awaken inside his chambers.
From here, the matter is out of her hands and in his.
She knows he will not fail.
The Fabulous Killjoys continue to move through the long, white hallways.
Missile Kid leads the way, even as Party's stomach twists at having her in front, perfectly exposed to danger.
But she knows these corridors; she knows this place like the back of her hand.
Her mother had brought her along on several occasions, showed her where things were and what places were restricted to her curious eyes.
They're almost there, they can see through the glass doors and walls that make up the main south entrance.
It's only a few steps, only a few meters away, they're almost there!
Then there is noise behind them.
Party Poison whirls around; the others follow his movement, ray guns up in an instant, flashing with the shots that take the first wave of Draculoids and Scarecrows down.
The white and black clad drones are coming out of nowhere, pouring into the room at an alarming rate, replacing their fallen comrades two by three by four and Fun Ghoul feels his heart constrict in his chest, squeezing painfully with the knowledge of what will happen.
He has to get Grace and his brothers out of here.
Party at least.
Party Poison and Missile Kid have to be the ones that live.
With that goal in mind, Fun Ghoul comes out from behind the pillar providing him cover, moving steadily towards Party.
Jet Star must see his intentions, because the taller Killjoy moves towards Missile Kid, who has come to a halt in the middle of their protective circle, hands against her ears, clearly paralyzed with fear.
Party Poison takes down Drac after Drac, cursing when they keep coming.
He's aware that Korse is staying back, watching everything, waiting for an opportune chance to strike.
He's about to go confront him, when he feels a warm pressure along his shoulder.
He doesn't even have to turn his head to see Kobra Kid.
His younger brother is leaning slightly against him, covering his back.
They stand there, together, sharing those precious moments.
They both know they have to pull away, neither wants to; they have to break their formation in order to get out of there.
Party Poison is the first to move, the first to step towards a Draculoid that is getting much too close.
He wants to yell at the others to get out, to take Missile Kid and go, but he knows they won't leave him, they won't leave him behind and as much as that breaks his heart it also keeps it whole, seals it together with the heat of their loyalty.
A Draculoid advances towards Kobra Kid, no doubt prepared to take the Killjoy out from behind.
Party doesn't know what possesses him to do it, to grab the Draculoid's mask even as he shoots the drone in the back, point blank.
All he knows is that his side has started to throb slightly, that his breaths are now starting to come in pants.
And maybe it's the brokenness of his chest, the physical part of it, where the Scarecrow had kicked at him and kicked at him to get him to let go of Grace, just yesterday when this whole mess had started.
But he thinks it's really the discovery that he makes, when the mask, surprisingly pliant, slides right off the Draculoid's head as gravity pulls its dying body down.
The face is familiar, shockingly so, too familiar, too known, too much to take, to handle, to process.
No, no, no, no, no!
The data crashes inside his head, a pile-up of thoughts, and he cannot accept it.
The mask falls from his now nerveless fingers and he's aware that he steps back.
And then everything jumps into focus again, and he knows he must trust his senses, what he's seeing is the truth.
There is no denying it.
No denying that the body before him, the Draculoid, the man, the friend, the former Killjoy,is, was,Cherri Cola.
He's killed one of his own.
Korse does not like to stand by the sidelines.
He does like to observe, however, when he knows it will serve an important purpose.
He'd observed the Killjoys for months, to determine who the weakest pillars of the rebel organization were.
And who were the strongest.
He'd gotten to the weakest, had persuaded them to give in, to betray.
And the strongest are before him now, they've played perfectly into his trap and all for what?
He smirks at the notion, feels rage fill him at the thought.
Their love will cost them their lives, all of them.
All four will belong to the company.
But Party Poison…Party Poison will be his.
He has plans for the red-haired leader, plans for the man the king desert rat that's been standing in the way of the company for much too long.
Korse observes him the closest, watches him and sees his chance.
The Exterminator grins as he moves forward, already tasting blood.
Cherri Cola had trusted him.
He was supposed to have been the one to protect him, to advise him, to dissuade him.
He'd not only deceived the others, he'd deceived himself.
And now, here was the truth, laid bare before his eyes.
How long had BL/Ind. been taking them, turning them into something that they weren't?
How many of these men here, masked, were innocent? How many guilty?
Who had joined willingly, and who had been forced?
There is blood on his hands again, either way. The blood of his family, and now Cherri Cola's, victims of a nameless war, shrapnel in his heart.
Party can feel the guilt gnawing again, feeding on his reawakened insecurities as a leader.
He is distracted, unaware until it is too late.
One second and he reaches forward and takes hold of the dropped Draculoid mask, fingers closing around the latex.
Two seconds and Korse takes him by the shoulder, pushing him violently against the wall.
He can hear Kobra Kid scream his name right above the blaring of the alarms and the final thoughts rushing through his mind.
He'd brought them here, here to this place, to a fate worse than death because he can see it in Korse's eyes, in the way the Exterminator regards him with loathing curiosity as he tilts his head to the right.
And Korse relishes the feeling of power and control that charges through his veins, it's a soaring high that he only feels when chasing the rebels Party Poison and his gang of Fabulous Killjoys in particular.
Doubt and fear flicker in his adversary's eyes, for the briefest of moments because he must know how could he not? what Korse has in mind.
And then the steadfast rebelliousness is back, the determined will that refuses to yield even now.
Korse can't stand it.
Party feels the heat of the ray gun's muzzle against his neck, feels the finality of it right under his jaw, pressed against his throat so closely he can sense the cold of Korse's fingers.
Just yesterday,he was the last to fall.
Today, he'll be the first.
He will not close his eyes, will not show fear, and will not beg for his life.
He just stares at Korse, daring him to do it, to finish it.
Defiant to the end.
He looks at the man before him, and he grins.
He has a chance to make perfection, to destroy that dangerous and grating beauty that burns in the flame of life in Party Poison's eyes.
And he takes it.
Fun Ghoul knows he's too late.
Knows it when Kobra Kid screams his brother's name, voice torn by anguish and anger as he runs to help Party Poison.
Knows it when Korse pulls the trigger, when his best friend's eyes close and he slides down the wall.
And he waits, he shoots and he waits, because Party Poison cannot die.
Killjoys never die and Party was the most daring and strongest of them all.
He cannot, he cannot be...
But he is. Party Poison is dead.
And there is nothing nothing anymore that Fun Ghoul can do to save him.
Kobra Kid sees it all.
He has front row seats, so fucking close, so close…
It wasn't enough.
He feels like it never is as he sees his brother's eyes close, sees his body slide down, down to the ground where he stays, unmoving.
Pain engulfs his chest, flares where he knows his heart should be but it isn't there, not anymore, it's dead, dead, dead, as lifeless as the body of the man who would have given everything for him.
And he failed him.
He failed in the most sacred of tasks: the protection of life.
He hears nothing, not even Missile Kid's piercing, wailing screams register as he charges Korse, blinded by loss and sorrow.
He sees nothing but the flashing fire of his shot hitting the Exterminator's leg.
And he feels nothing when a Draculoid's blast collides solidly with his torso, sending him straight into a world of endless black.
He'd tasted the bitterness of failure before.
First when he'd had to help his wife and the wives of his friends into a beat-up bus, trying to give them a chance at continued survival.
And now the taste is back, foul on his tongue and heavy in his stomach, as he sees not only the death of his leader Party Poison but then the almost immediate fall of his brother Kobra Kid.
Missile Kid's scream is loud in his ears, making them ring and yet he feels nothing.
He feels hollow and tired so tired of everything, of the world and all its injustice and cruelty.
For taking lives, prized timelines, human stories that should have been allowed to keep running.
But he will not allow the losses to be in vain.
The game is still going, the clock not yet up and he grabs Missile Kid and shoves her against Jet Star.
He pushes them to the entrance, holds the glass door open as shots ricochet around him and then he lets go.
Jet Star's look of confusion please Ghoul, please we're the only ones left, don't leave me alone, is only momentary before the taller Killjoy understands, comprehends that everything that has happened cannot and must not be in vain.
Fun Ghoul turns and shoots.
Fire ignites on his shoulder but he remains upright, keeps his finger on the trigger.
The second laser blow lands a little below the first, and by the time he hits the floor…
Jet Star knows what he must do.
He's the last one, the last of the Fabulous Killjoys and that knowledge burns in his very soul, scorching everything that lies in its path.
But you're wrong, a voice whispers and he wonders if it's just the adrenaline, just the blood that rushes through his body as he runs, You're wrong because you are not the last.
She's still alive.
The voice sounds like Party Poison's and he must be mistaken because he's just seen the man the leader, the friend and brother fall.
He listens anyway.
He keeps running, running toward the dirty white van that's pulling up, the barely-there light of the new day flashing dimly off of the dusty paint.
He never makes it, something sears in the middle of his chest, and yet he feels that he's done it.
You're wrong. She's still alive.
Missile Kid feels hands pulling her into the van.
She feels someone settling her in the back, arms around her shoulders, rubbing up and down.
She feels the swaying of the vehicle as it pulls away, hears the dull thump of laser shots hitting the car.
Someone is calling her name.
Her throat aches.
She finally looks up, turning from Show Pony to Dr. Death Defying.
"They're gone," she whispers.
Both men listen and do not know that this will be the last time they'll hear her voice.
Korse watches impassively as the remaining Draculoids begin to gather the bodies of their dead.
He sends the Scarecrows that have just come in to collect the bodies of the Killjoys, ordering those with stretchers to the three near the door.
He stands over the body of the fallen leader, however, contemplative.
Airi Isoda joins his side.
"I saw them get away," She mentions, "The girl was taken by the one known as 'Dr. Death Defying' and two others I do not know."
Maybe she's expecting Korse to be angry.
The Exterminator though, just nods at her.
His steely black eyes return to the red-haired man that sits unmoving.
"Once they've all been processed and sterilized, take the others to the Draculoid facility," He says finally, "This one is to go to the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W Unit,"
The Scarecrows just act upon his orders, unspeaking.
Korse continues to watch as they pull the limp body onto a stretcher before a third Scarecrow maneuvers it into a BL/Ind. issue body bag, zipping it up immediately.
"What now, Chief Exterminator?"
For a moment, Korse doesn't answer and Airi Isoda almost turns away to leave.
His voice comes out collected and calm, even through the smirk on his face.
"We've captured all this on our security cameras, correct?"
"Have the data sent immediately to the Director and the Board…And Isoda?"
He pauses for a beat and she can only look at him quizzically before he continues.
"Have it also sent to the Communications Department. I want their deaths broadcasted on all the television sets in Battery City and the Zones. We've taken the strongest pillars. It's time to destroy the rest of the Killjoys."
Dr. Death Defying does not want to make the call.
But he knows he has to, even with the pain gripping his chest.
He'd use one of the two available emergency calls.
Emergencies only, Party had said.
The name catches in his mind, makes the air in his throat somehow heavier.
He has to tell them, the rest of Killjoys. They deserve to know.
With slow and unsure hands, he takes the mike in his hands.
He opens the small tin box. Inside are the two codes to activate the emergency call lines.
He can feel Missile Kid's and Show Pony's presence behind him, but he does not turn around.
"Dr. Death Defying here… bad news from Zone 6. Killjoys, listen up…"
Emergency Exit pressed herself closer to the ruined building behind her, hoping to escape the sun's blaring heat.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around quickly, raygun drawn. She wasn't about to end up like Tiger Triggerpull, not when he'd given his life to save the small group of Killjoys she was now leading away from the ever expanding presence of BL/Ind. in Zone 1.
She didn't expect to see a Killjoy, much less the stricken look on his face.
For a moment she thought Wolf Bled Venom, a Killjoy they'd found wandering the desert alone, injured and memory-less a few days ago, had taken yet another turn for the worse.
"It's the Fabulous Killjoys…" The young man told her and she felt her stomach drop.
Ammo Annihilation was tinkering with his latest technological creation when he heard it.
Unmistakably shrill, the radio in the communication room beeped for his attention.
This was a different sound though, the one he knew for a fact Motorbaby had had installed for the two possible emergency calls.
He ran to the radio, picked it up. They'd been unable to contact anyone since yesterday, so this had to be about that. Maybe Dracs had cut the lines again?
And then he heard the message, felt the blood leave his hands, numbing the feeling of the communicator in his fingers.
"What it is? Anything on the communication lines?" Motorbaby asked from the doorway. She'd been changing the oil on the Jeep outside when she'd heard the sound.
A smile played on her lips until she saw the look of sadness on Ammo Annihilation's face.
And just like that, she knew instinctively what had happened.
Tommy Chowmein was redoing a map of the Zones when he saw DJ Hot Chimp walk into the room with sagged shoulders.
There was an unusual look of distress upon the typically upbeat pirate radio DJ's face.
"What's up Hot Chimp?"
"Nothing good I'm afraid," The man looked away, "First News, then Cherry…"
Tommy Chowmein swallowed thickly.
"It's not…not them is it?"
"I'm afraid so. Dr. Death just sent it out over the emergency line."
"I don't know Chow. Lines are down; each Zone is on its own…I honestly don't know."
Ritalin Urgency and Shadow Riot were arguing again, discussing opposing theories of just what the hell was going on and how it could be fixed, when the red light in the big comm. room lit up.
Shadow Riot was the first to see it, and since they'd been unable to contact any other Zone for almost two days, their fight immediately ended in favor of answering the emergency call.
They both expected something, anything, about Dracs and the power lines, about BL/Ind. jamming the signals.
Not what they actually heard.
Riot's voice was tense when he turned back to Ritalin, who fidgeted with her raygun, looking lost.
"Go get Epsilon. He needs to hear this, now."
Maroon Blu was busy checking her medical supply kit, frowning at the low amount of gauze when she paused.
Aubergine Sin, as a rule, was a talker. He loved to prattle on about anything and everything, so when he stopped at her nickname it struck Maroon Blu as strange.
The female Killjoy turned around, sensing something was wrong.
The look of barely concealed panic on his face ignited fear in Maroon Blu.
"We have to get Demolition Shot. Tell her what's happened."
"Tell me what?"
Beyond the unsettling feeling of dread in her stomach, Blu knew nothing and she worried the hem of her maroon shirt as she looked at Aubergine for answers.
The male Killjoy spoke haltingly.
"The Fabulous Killjoys…they…they're…"
Demolition Shot looked away, absently readjusting her long yellow jacket. He didn't need to finish.
"All of them?"
Aubergine could only nod.
"I got 20 to your 12, so I win," Rocketship Dropout announced, placing down her cards and rolling up the sleeves of her green trenchcoat, to prove that she had not been cheating, as the other Killjoy kept claiming.
Little Red groaned, kicking at the legs of the table with old combat boots. "I hate blackjack. Can we play something else?"
Rocketship Dropout was about to retort when Lady Luck came running into the room, out of breath, fright written plainly on her face.
"Sugar Fiend is calling everyone to the basement. Dropout, you get Biscuit. Red, you're supposed to get Crash. Be quick. She wants us there in five."
Lady Luck was about to run off, to get the others, when Little Red's hand stopped her.
"We need to know what's going on."
"Yeah," Rocketship Dropout agreed, "You can't just come in here without even–"
"It's the Fabulous Killjoys," Lady interrupted, "They're gone."
Little Red immediately let go.
Quantum Kill ran a shaking hand through his hair.
"Did he say anything else?"
Merchant Disaster just shook his head, "No…no more than what I just told you."
"There'll be a war you know."
Merchant Disaster looked at his leader, "You really think so?"
Quantum Kill nodded. "If they've really killed them…killed them like this…it will be the last straw for many."
Disaster fisted his hands, "Do you think we could win?"
Quantum laughed humorlessly.
"With them gone? There'll be anger yes. There already is. It will unite some of us. And divide others. I don't know, Disaster. Nothing is bulletproof… Not anymore."
"How do you want to proceed?"
Blood Ballistics placed his head in his hands, leaving the question unanswered.
"I'm trying to think. Trying to think of the best way to handle this, to keep everyone safe. Now that BL/Ind. has ghosted them…they won't stop there Houdini. They won't."
DJ Houdini played with the bandana at his neck.
He knew that his leader was right.
"They'll come after the rest of us…Someone had to have squealed, someone sold them out…someone sold us all."
Blood Ballistics lifted his head and looked at his friend straight in the eyes.
"So who do we trust?"
Houdini could not answer.
"We must proceed as cautiously as possible, with minimal loss of life."
There was a meaning there, an edge to Ballistics' voice that unsettled the other Killjoy.
"I will act to preserve the lives of my Killjoys. Nothing else."
Battery Burnout sat at her desk, dumbstruck.
She'd just been called over by the Killjoys assigned to monitor communications.
She'd not expected news of this magnitude.
Electric Revenge looked at the circle of people around her, searching for words.
She found her mouth dry, her throat slack, and the words would not come.
"What do we do?"
Electric's gaze traveled from the brown of the table before her to the brown of Techno Beat's eyes.
What do we do, Pika-chan?
The multicolor-haired leader rested her hands on the katana blades strapped to her belt, looking at each of them in turn; Chemical Skeleton, Rocket Revolver, Laser Shot, before her eyes returned to her best friend's.
"We keep running."
Chemical Skeleton smiled sadly.
"Once a renegade," He said,
"Always a rebel," She finished.
Volume Virus stared at the message in her hands.
She was away from the headquarters, visiting Grandma, the oldest Killjoy who lived at the edges of the territory entrusted to Volume Virus, though the elderly woman claimed allegiance to no Zone.
She'd been getting her tailored jacket fixed when a zone runner had stormed into the small home-turned-shop, carrying the letter.
The writing was sloppy, slanted and hurried.
But she could still read the dreadful message inside.
And she knew exactly what she would do.
No sooner had Disco Panic heard the emergency broadcast than he slammed his headphones down.
"Sequin!" He shouted, scrawling the message on a slip of paper.
Sequin Anarchy jumped awake from his seat by the door of the large mechanic shop, at once alert as he ran into the other room.
Disco Panic just held the message out to him, hand trembling visibly.
The other Killjoy read the message.
Then he read it again, and again, and again, wishing against all hope that the message would change.
Disco broke him out of his trance.
"Crim needs to see it."
He simply nodded before going to the stairs at the end of the main room, running down them two at a time.
He bumped into Crimson Sigh, who simply smiled at him as he subconsciously fiddled with the Virgin Mary bracelet around his left wrist.
Disco hated the way his leader's face fell when he couldn't return the smile. Hated the way his grey eyes clouded instantly with worry.
"Dr. Death used one of the emergency calls, he said…he– The Fabulous Killjoys are dead…they're gone."
"Male, blond hair, no identifying marks on the body. Ray gun wound to the abdomen."
The young man moved on, to the table next to the one he'd been examining, glancing once at the older man across from him for approval.
"Male, black hair, many identifying marks though too numerous to catalogue completely. Double ray gun wound to the left upper chest and shoulder."
He moved again, the third table in the row.
"Male, dark brown hair, no identifying marks on the body. Ray gun wound to the center of the chest."
He moved to the last table, looking down at his clipboard once to verify the orders written there.
"Are we really not allowed to touch this one?"
The older man rolled his eyes. "Look, kid. Just follow whatever is on the work order. No more, no less."
The young scientist nodded and began again.
"Male, red hair, no identifying marks on the body. Ray gun wound to the upper neck region…"
He stepped back and jotted down some notes on his clipboard, more out of nervousness than necessity. This was his very first sterilization and processing procedure and already he felt his stomach turn uneasily.
The older scientist across from him must have sensed his trepidation because he fixed him with a hard stare.
"You need to stick to the procedures. Nothing else. We have been ordered to process, sterilize and sort these bodies. This is the kind of work you start with. You may have been able to skip the mandatory Draculoid service because of your brilliance, but that will only get you so far. If the supervisors sense anything other than absolute confidence in you, you'll be shipped off immediately. Is that clear?" He waited until the young man nodded before continuing, "Now that that's out of the way, where are these bodies going?"
"The first three to the Draculoid facility. The last to the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W unit."
The man didn't say anything further as he reached to his own clipboard and peeled off a sticker.
The barcode on the paper was similar to the barcode barely visible on his hand through the translucent latex material of the surgical gloves.
The young man looked at the top of his own hands, clean and free of any such tattoos.
He's right. You're where you are today because of your brains. How many of your classmates were sent off to train and serve their mandatory years in the Draculoid units? Your father may be an important board member but it was really your mental aptitude that saved you. Are you going to waste that now?
"Hey kid, you going to keep daydreaming or are you going to actually help?"
He immediately snapped to attention and took the offered clipboard, peeling off two other barcode stickers and placing them on the left hand of the remaining bodies, sans the last one.
"What about him?"
"We don't place a sticker on him. The people down in the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W unit will take care of marking and branding him with the number assigned to him by the company."
"Branding?" He couldn't keep the waver out of his voice.
"Yes branding. What are you? Deaf? Draculoids serve for a given number of years. As you approach a certain age, and if your record of service is good, you are re-integrated back into society. Scarecrows, however, serve for life. Hence the drastic identification measures."
He stared at the red-haired man on the table, wondering what he'd done to deserve such a fate.
His co-worker noticed the sympathetic glance and rapped his knuckles on the metal examination table.
"These men were rebels. They worked against BL/Ind. Clearly they were high profile too, especially that one that you're looking at. Better to leave things at that. Chief Exterminator Korse will have your head if he catches any wind of your misplaced sympathy. Especially towards the last one. He must have had a personal vendetta against him because he stunned him personally, and so badly too. I reckon the workers in the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W unit will be thankful though, the shot the Chief took must have caused some muscle and chord damage. One less laryngectomy to perform. Less time he spends in the cryogenic chambers and out of training and active duty."
He blanched at the idea.
"Don't tell me you've never wondered why the Scarecrows don't talk? Makes it easier to control a man I suppose, when you silence his voice."
The older scientist frowned. He never referred to the bodies he worked on as men, or even human. It only made things much, much harder.
"Enough with this nonsense," He muttered, now angry, "Get the three scheduled for sterilization. First one and third don't need much work, just a haircut I think. We can't remove all of the tattoos on the second so just make a note that we'll leave him as is. First will need about a week in the cryogenic chambers to heal. Second and third a week and a half. The last, I reckon about two weeks."
The young man only nodded, not trusting his voice after everything he'd just been told.
"And arrange for someone to come and change them. Their clothes go to the Disposal Unit. All these colors are hurting my eyes."
"I must congratulate you on your excellent work, Chief Exterminator. The Board and this company are very pleased with what you've been able to deliver."
"And it's only the beginning, Director," Korse drawled, playing with his pen, "There is still so much more to be done."
"Tell me, Korse. Now that you've taken out the most dangerous threats to this company in one single blow, how do you plan on following up?"
Korse stood from his seat, gesturing to the three-dimensional topographic holo-map of the Zones in the middle of the conference table.
"The Fabulous Killjoys were the greatest threat but not the only ones. We divided the Zones into six parts but the rebels have gone and divided themselves into thirteen different areas. They've appointed a so-called 'Zone leader' to each one. My guess is that the rebel DJ, alias 'Dr. Death Defying' has now taken control of Zone 6. With the killing of Zone leader alias 'Tiger Triggerpull' however, I've managed to overrun Zone 1. I am confident that the company will have complete dominance there by the end of the week."
"You do not fail to impress Chief Exterminator," The Director said with a wicked smile.
Korse returned the sick grin. "By taking out the upper level of the rebel organization we've created a power vacuum. I have no doubt the Killjoys will be vying for some semblance of control over the next weeks, trying to fill the gap. And that is where we must strike. We must divide them further, drive them apart."
"An ambitious plan indeed."
"Ambitious and completely sound, I assure you. We'll continue to jam all Zone radio signals. Keep them from contacting each other. Keep them isolated and afraid. I'll have my men renew their efforts, this time concentrating on the Zone leaders as primary targets."
The Director seemed content thus far. "And what of the 'fabulous' rebels you took this morning? When will they be operational?"
"The scientists tell me all will be functional and ready for re-programming within two weeks," Korse paused. He had arrived at the part of the plan where he knew the most controversy would arise, "There is however, another arrangement that must be discussed."
The Director's eyes narrowed. "What is it, Korse?"
"I want to offer the rebels amnesty."
Loud, angry murmurs went up around the table.
A man to the far left stood up, angrily. "Are you out of your mind?"
Korse regarded him with a cool glare. He particularly loathed this board member, who believed himself superior, even when he'd sniveled and bribed his son out of mandatory Draculoid service duty.
The Director silenced them all by slamming his fist on the table. "I'm sure Korse has a good explanation. One that he will provide right away."
Korse ignored the sharp edge in the Director's voice.
"I want to send the signal out to every Zone that anyone who drops their ray gun and mask, and sends a representative to Battery City, will be forgiven their crimes against the company and be allowed to join the Neutrals."
"And what, exactly, do you think to accomplish by doing this?"
Korse gave another twisted smile. "That, Director, is the purpose of the following presentation."
The Exterminator took a seat as Airi Isoda typed something into the computer, beginning the visual presentation of Korse's plan on the large display screen at the far wall.
The Director and Board members watched in rapt silence until the screen went black.
The Director simply looked at Korse and nodded.
Explicit permission to proceed, and now Korse knew that nothing else would stand in his way.
Missile Kid packs in a hurry, shoving whatever belongings she's gathered over the years into a trash bag.
She knows they have little time, the chances that BL/Ind. will find them are now higher than ever and with her protectors gone…
She shakes her head, suppressing the thoughts and the emotions, burying the memory still fresh, only a few hours ago deep within the recesses of her young mind.
She places her boom box in last, hoping that the few items of clothing she'd thrown in will cushion the electronic device.
It doesn't work, she really doesn't know why her mother ever gave it to her in the first place, but it's something of her past, a little piece of the woman who'd raised her and saved her life.
She ties the bag off and is about to leave the room when she spots the plant.
Party had given it to her for her birthday just like Ghoul had given her a robot toy, like Kobra had given her a flashy hacking device, like Jet Star had given her a new bomber hat.
The plant is entrenched firmly in a small pot, surrounded by dark brown dirt and encased in a glass box perforated with holes to let air in.
The only light it gets is artificial the sun is too damaging, the only air that of the Diner the air outside would have killed it.
The protection had allowed the plant to grow green and strong, unlike the near-dead brush outside.
It brings tears to her eyes but she grabs it and takes it with her.
White Dr. Death Defying and Show Pony are packing up the essentials she goes to the other rooms.
She knows there won't be enough room in the van for everything so she picks up the things she believes they would have wanted to keep.
A picture frame, a stuffed animal and the bass.
The pile of drawings on Party's desk, neatly stacked, are the last to go in the bag and only because she'd contemplated ripping them up, not bearing to look at the images on the paper.
She runs the bag to the back of the van but she keeps the small plant with her and she stands there, staring at the building that has been home to her for the last few years and which she must now abandon.
It feels like everyone and everything is leaving her behind.
Dr. Death Defying's hand rests on her shoulder.
"We have to go now Missile Kid. Hyper Noise has offered us her place."
She doesn't answer and Dr. Death struggles with the words, struggles because he doesn't know what to say, how to help her, how to ease the pain.
He settles for something Party Poison had told him one a late night when both men had been unable to sleep.
"You know Party told me once," Dr. Death pauses when he feels Missile Kid tense, "He said that we only live forever in the lights we make. Their lights are with you Grace."
Missile Kid still says and does nothing and he takes her hand, placing the folded yellow cloth inside it.
She stares at it, and says nothing, even as she unfolds the yellow bandana and holds it up to the sun.
She merely crumples the cloth and stuffs it into her pocket, giving one last glance to the Diner before turning and running into the van.
Dr. Death Defying can only sigh and follow.
The Diner grows smaller and smaller in the distance.
Grace watches its fading outline until it becomes just another speck against an arid background.
"We only live forever in the lights we make."
She grabs her journal out of her satchel, runs her fingers over the worn and warm leather.
She'd tried talking this morning, even if only half-heartedly, and been unsurprised when nothing came out.
Show Pony is not watching her like he's supposed to.
He's too busy looking outside for danger and she takes her chance, grabbing a small but sharp piece of glass on the van floor, a left over from a previous now repaired blown out window.
Her fingerless gloves provide some protection but still the glass cuts into her fingers as she takes the sharpest edge and presses it to the cover of her journal, carving each letter carefully.
When she's done she simply wipes her hand on her jeans, the blood fading mostly into the dusty dark blue.
She looks at the yellow bandana now tied around her wrist, then at the carved words.
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
She wonders if Dr. Death Defying is right. If their lights, brilliant colors of red, green, blue and yellow really carry on with her.
The pages beneath her hands will be her voice now, she decides. She'll write instead. She'll write about everything, every story that collides and intertwines with her own.
The future will be bulletproof once more.
And so we have reached the end. Thank you to all who've stuck with me and made this story a success, it has garnered a great amount of reviews in such a short time and I have you guys to thank for that :D
Keep an eye out for the sequel, which will feature all the Killjoys submitted to me! I promise that it will be awesome ride.
Now I will ask you one last time (before the sequel that is!) REVIEW! A writer's muse feeds on reviews ;D