“We’re coming to get you!” echoed the voice of the pair of men behind me as I ran. My shoes were caked in dirt, my clothes were torn and bloody. I’d lost the lace of one of my trainers, making me run in a sort of limp.
“I’ll catch you, you thief!”
I shivered at the thought. Cutter was unhinged on a good day, and today wasn’t good for him. He had an excuse to use me as an outlet, and I knew that if I let him catch me, I’d be in for a very bad day myself.
I ducked into one of the abandoned buildings in the street, careful not to kick stones or shift rubble. I didn’t want to make a noise and I knew they couldn’t see me. They’d have to use their Biogloves.
I clenched my right arm, turning my own Bioglove on as I began to sneak through the building. I made the gesture for a torch and the fabric lit up at my fingertips, allowing me to see in the darker areas.
The ruins of the old city were vast, and easy to get lost in. Even worse, I had little chance of escaping Cutter and Jackal on my own.
I could hear Jackal scream out in the distance. “Where are you?”
I smirked at that. Did he think I would just let him find me?
I saw a broken mirror hanging on a wall, next to an arrangement of ruined, dirty seats. I moved my right hand around, the light illuminating the room a little. I left the room for a door and progressed down a hallway, making sure to give a quick look into every room for something to use.
I finally caught glimpse of a closet. I opened it, and stifled a shriek as moths, flies and dust blasted me along with the remains of several coats.
I kicked it to the side with my good shoe and gave a quick look. They were in better condition than the jeans and shirt I had on, but dusty.
“Could use a change of clothes,” I murmured to myself as I touched my left sleeve. The shirt was originally white, but it was so encrusted with old blood and dirt that it looked more like a deep shade of brown now.
I felt a thud to the back of my head, forcing my into the closet. I quickly turned around, and saw Cutter standing there, his tool in his hand.
“Got you, sweet cheeks,” he said. Everything went fuzzy as the glow from his Bioglove lit up his dagger, and he stabbed me again in the stomach.
Cutter smiled behind his helmet as he picked me up by the ankles after flicking my blood away and sheathing his knife. As he began the task of dragging me out the house, I started to think about how I got here as my vision slowly became darker and darker.
Three Months Prior: New Frontier City.
“Joanne, time to wake up!”
I groaned at the voice of my mother, then seethed at the sight of my broken alarm clock in the corner of my room. I must have thrown it in rage instead of hitting the snooze button.
Before I could get up (or considering a more likely scenario of me not perceiving a long passage of time where I was still half asleep in bed) my mother barged in, vacuum cleaner at the ready.
“Oh god,” I muttered as she turned it on, blasting my room with noise.
Her plan worked, and I jumped to my feet from the bed, covering my ears.
“I get it! I get it!” I said, almost laughing. “I’m up already!”
My mother was a good estimate of what I’d look like in a few years. She had the same straight black hair as I, but hers was cut short, resting above her shoulders. Both our lips, our almost perfect teeth, our noses and our legs were the same, with the only thing from my father’s side being the colour of my eyes and my ears.
“What do you mean, dear?” asked my mother jokingly. “I’m just cleaning your room!”
“I need to get dressed first,” I replied as I got up and gestured to the door. “Can I have a moment?”
She took ages turn the vacuum cleaner off and leave my bedroom. I was tempted to slam the door but I didn’t. Instead, I quickly turned to the dresser in my room and pulled it open, selecting a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt to wear.
I rushed into the shower and changed into my clothes preferring personal hygiene over tardiness. Reaching for my bag, I paused and took a deep look at my right arm.
I forgot my Bioglove. Great.
“Mom?” I asked, walking back upstairs into my room.
“Yes dear?” she asked from her own bedroom. She was making the bed.
“Two things; what’s the time and did you see my Bioglove about?”
“It’s late and I don’t know,” replied my mother. “did you bring it home?”
I smirked at the question. Of course I did, the front door wouldn’t open without my Bioglove. I raided all the obvious places for it once I entered my room. On the dresser, under the bed, in between the sheets… nowhere.
Then I heard a crack as I stepped back, and looked at the clothes I wore to bed with a horrified look on my face.
“Oh god no,” I muttered, stepping off the pile of clothes and moving them away.
My fears were confirmed as I picked up my Bioglove; I damaged it, badly.
I made a deep sigh of annoyance as I lifted my Bioglove and fitted it onto my right hand, only to see half the lights activate. My index finger and thumb worked perfectly, but only the knuckle light for my middle finger worked, and my ring and pinky had no lights at all. The back of my hand and my wrist lights were okay as the black piece of clothing lit up in lines reminiscent of Tron’s aesthetics.
I turned my hand over to look at my palm and saw the crack in the device. I could see my bare palm, and the lines to my pinky, ring finger and my middle finger were blank, due to the damage.
Damn, I thought to myself. The Repairshop in the middle of town is too busy and expensive.
I resigned myself to a crippled Bioglove as I set out for highschool, hoping it wouldn’t impede me all day and that my teachers would understand.
As I closed the front door, I heard my mom one last time. “Don’t forget, your dad’s coming to visit!”
I smiled at the thought. They were broken up, but the breakup wasn’t messy, and they both tried their best. Mom wasn’t married, she’d taken a job as a janitor at the local shopping mall. Dad was remarried, I had a brother in law three years younger than me.
Me? I was Sixteen. I didn’t enjoy the privilege of a “Sweet Sixteen” birthday like some of my peers, but I enjoyed a smaller party with the few friends I did have. Friends who were surprisingly as late as I was. Susan and Andrew.
Susan was dressed more feminine than me, yet at the same time more relaxed. Her midriff showed, but she wore a combo of a dark red tube top and small leather jacket well. Her denim shorts reached just below her knees and were a loose fit, unwilling to cling to her. Apart from her clothing, the most noticeable thing about her was her hair. She had her black hair cut short except a small thin segment on the left side of her fringe which she both kept longer than the rest of her hair and dyed red. Susan’s Bioglove matched her red and black theme, like her hair and top. Her black running shoes also had red streaks along the side.
Andrew, on the other hand was dressed in a blue background on yellow and white flower Hawaiian shirt. He wore dark green shorts and sandals, giving a more lazy look than I did, which was impressive. His blonde hair still had remnants of bed head which contrasted his personality of being cautious and anxious most of the time.
They were both walking towards my house as it was closer to the high school and they were conveniently further away in the same general direction. Susan was furthest, and Andrew had pressured her to drive a car for safety reasons, but she doesn’t think she can afford it.
Andrew saw through my stepford smile as he approached.
“What’s got you down?” he asked as I joined the pair.
I held out my right arm and we all stopped to take a look.
“Wow,” said Susan, looking at my Bioglove. “You wrecked it, didn’t you?”
I shrugged. “Stepped on it by accident,” I explained. “It was under my nightgown.”
Andrew, the only boy in our small group, chuckled as I showed off the crack in my Bioglove.
“The repair shop in the town centre will charge that right arm anyway Jo. You’ve picked a bad time to break a Bioglove.”
I knew that. The Bioglove was a handy device. A tool as common as the Mobile Phone was in the nineties and new millennium, and the Tablet was in the new tens and twenties. A device for the new fourties onward, created in 2038 and marketed in 2041. Since then it took the world my storm with its countless utilities and apps. A Tablet couldn’t be a key or a drivers license or a battery like a Bioglove. A Tablet needed power in the first place.
Susan grabbed my right arm gently and ran her finger along the crack.
“Looks like it isn’t redistributing the bio-electricity,” she said. “I know a guy who can fix that, he’s got a shop in Wess-”
“We ain’t going to Wessenwald,” interrupted Andrew, channelling his parents. “My parents would kill me then you. In that order.”
Susan scoffed at the thought as she let go of my right arm.
“Joe’s isn’t in Wessenwald, Andy. It’s just outside of the old city.”
The old city was a ruin, the remains of a failed expansion to New Frontier. Most of the buildings there are derelict, and it’s a hotspot for homeless squatters and vagrants.
“Old city is worse. At least the thugs in Wessenwald are clean.”
“I’ll prove it to you. We’ll go there and if we are too far near Wessenwald or the old city, we’ll go back.”
Andrew didn’t say anything, he only gave a curious upturn of his eyebrow as a reaction.
“I promise,” Susan continued.
After a pause, Andrew gave in. “Okay, fine.”
We got back to walking to school.
“So why’d you take it off anyway?” asked Susan. “Was it because of that Courier thing you watch?”
“No, they delayed the match till later on today,” I replied.
“Good,” cut in Andrew. “That stuff is illegal as hell.”
“Come on Andrew, it’s not that bad!”
He put a hand up to my face. “You’ve seen the so called accidents. There is a reason why it’s banned.”
Deep down, I knew he was right. Courier was banned, and for good reason. It’s a game that combines the crimes of consensual assault, Bioglove cracking and trespassing at the very least. In fact, the only way to watch it is on private networks online as it’s streamed after a delay.
“It’s not like I’ll ever get involved anyway, so don’t complain,” was all I could say.
Andrew dropped the subject along with me and started talking about a different one; homework.
“So you didn’t do maths?” he asked Susan.
“I never do maths,” she replied. “It’s not like I’ll fail for that.”
“Sure, but you aren’t keeping yourself in top shape,” he replied. “Exams are soon, and you admit it isn’t your strong point.”
“I know the basics well enough, I know I don’t need to use algebra where I’ll be working.”
I cut in. “Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn it however,”
Andrew nodded at me in approval.
“It’s due anyway,” Susan protested. “Don’t get on my back! Besides, you probably have nothing done too.”
“You’ll still be chewed out,” I said. “You don’t want Danny to see you being treated like a little kid now!”
Susan blushed and punched my shoulder. “Shut up, Jo.”
“What? It’s true.”
Susan stopped talking and began to look a little embarrassed over my teasing. I’d have felt bad, but myself and Andrew had been teasing her with this ever since we caught her gawking at Daniel in the cafeteria at lunch once.
We eventually reached the high school and I sat down next to Susan for maths. As Andrew and I predicted, she was scolded for her lack of homework. She’d only given maths homework back three times, mostly because it doesn’t affect grades.
I’d wondered what she was doing in place of her maths homework. She never did homework for any of her classes, but I only had her for maths so I only commented on it. Andrew never had a single class with her either, so we only had our word to go on with her other studies. We both assumed it was like the only example I’d witnessed, and speculated that she never did any of her homework unless it was a special occasion.
The final question was what was she doing in her free time? She never told us.
I had my own problems, with my broken Bioglove. Some of the functions (mainly writing) required the use of all fingers, and I broke three. This was highly inconvenient as it meant I couldn’t take notes properly.
I’d have to do my notes by hand, wait to get my Bioglove repaired at Joe’s (If Andrew doesn’t chicken out) or the central mall, then redo them all again with the Bioglove.
Or, I could take a picture of my writing and hope the text reader didn’t mess up too badly. It didn’t do poorly with my writing, so I assumed that it would work well. I guess I could try the picture thing, and if editing the notes became too much of a hassle I’d just copy it out.
By the end of the day we’d all agreed on going to Joe’s repair shop. I was curious on how she knew of such a place, I needed my Bioglove repaired and Andrew was concerned about Susan, as he’d confessed at lunch when Susan dipped into the toilet to leave me and Andrew alone.
We walked, and after a few minutes reached an area mostly devoid of buildings. There was a flat expanse of dirt that had large pipes, piles of gravel and diggers. A construction site, I thought. Andrew had no complaints as we reached Joe’s repair shop. It was a small thing next to two other stores. a convenience store and a book store.
“Odd combo of shops,” I said to Susan as we walked up to ‘Fat Joe’s’. I noticed there were many small lights around the signpost, and one or two were missing.
“Hey there Joe,” Susan said aloud as she barged in, bells up above clinking. “Brought some friends from school here, one needs a repair cause she stood on her glove.”
Joe was behind the counter. He was unkempt in a was that reminded you of a fat alcoholic and not a repairman. The store had Bioglove models nailed to the wall for security reasons. Almost all f them were unremarkable, except for one which caught my eye. I saw that before, several people wearing the make or what should have been the make.
“Hey lady,” said Joe, his voice as gruff and awful as I imagined it. He looked about 30 years old, or older. His shirt wasn’t dirty, at least not when I took a second glance. “You gonna bring it over?”
I walked up to the counter, removing my Bioglove. I put it on the counter as Susan looked at the model I was staring at earlier.
“You got a three finger in, Joe?”
“Yeah,” he said, picking up and inspecting my glove. he saw the problem, the issue was repairing it without the end result looking like a shoddy mess. “Had a customer come in here looking for one. I went and got them bulk instead, just because.”
Andrew was the next person to ask a question. “Why’d you make a store out here, you are nearby the old city,” he said with the grace of a newborn lamb.
Joe looked up at him, a curious look in his eye. “It’s an investment. There’ll be new houses here, and with that comes customers.”
“I’ve seen the construction out there, it’s not going to be finished this year. Even if it is, not everyone will move in. You’re lying.”
“That isn’t the only new house kid. Restorations are actually happening in the old city and I still get customers from Wessenwald,” replied Joe. He got up for the back of his store then turned to me. “I’m going to be able to do a patch up, but it’ll be about fifty. You ok with that?”
I nodded. “Sure.”
Andrew slammed the door of the store as he left, surprising me. I didn’t even hear him till he banged it. Susan was too busy prodding the three finger model on the shelf to react, leaving me to leave the store and follow Andrew.
I caught him smoking out y the side. I thought he kicked the habit. He took a draw and leaned against the wall. I decided to do the same, but upwind so the smoke didn’t breeze into my face. He looked at me.
“Christ, for a guy that’s doing his best to keep me and Sue safe you really are a sinner, aren’t you?” I asked him with a grin.
Andrew have a small laugh and took another drag. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
I smiled at that. I was also glad Susan was busy in love with Daniel. She was missing the prize right next to her. Not that Susan and Andrew be able to handle each other if they tried dating. Susan was an incredibly troublesome girl to deal with and Andrew was an overprotective hypocrite.
Not that those were flaws, mind you. I’d have loved to have Andrew wrap his arms around me, sealing me off from the big, bad world.
Andrew interrupted me from my own fantasies. “Shouldn’t you get inside to see how he’s doing?”
I got off the wall and walked back in, only to bump into Susan at the door.
“He’s taken it into the workshop, he’ll be about 15 minutes he says,” she said.
The question was on my mind, so I asked her. “How’d you know Joe?”
“Oh? He’s a friend of a friend.”
“You never show us your other friends,” I said.
“A girl has to keep her secrets,” she replied with a smile all too smug.
We all knew her other friends were less reputable, at the very least. She only came to our current high school when she moved, and she admitted that she was nearly expelled before her parents left for New Frontier. Maybe that ties in with her homework issues?
I entered the store and sat down on a chair near the counter, listening to the sounds of Joe using tools on my Bioglove in an attempt to repair it. I checked my wallet and saw that I had about eighty on me, so I was in the clear to buy the repairs.
The three finger model that Susan and I looked at was stealing my attention again.
I got up and looked at it, trying to get a feel for how it should work. It only covered the Ring, Index and thumb, which was odd. Didn’t it need the pinky and middle fingers for some functions, or did it have an alternate method of running it’s functions.
I looked more closely at the ring finger and saw a strip running along both sides of it, clearly a different texture. The lines were different too, exactly like the ones everyone who plays courier uses.
“They wear this,” I said to myself quietly.
The dark green material with golden lines was a different colour scheme to what I was used to wearing and seeing, but I liked the look of it. I wondered what company made this?
Andrew came in, interrupting my thoughts. “Where’s Susan?”
“I don’t know, she left a few minutes ago,” I replied.
“Didn’t see or hear her.”
“Maybe she went to the store? I’ll go look,” I said, walking out the store.
I turned to the convenience store and gave a sigh. Andrew was too tense here. I turned back to say something, and I saw someone I never thought I’d ever meet in real life.
I saw a courier; I saw Hammerhead Jack.
It was him. He had the full gear he wore during matches. His white and blue colour scheme, his speed as he raced along the street on his motor skates, his helmet, the dorsal fin on it.
Most of all, his massive, almost comical hammer, powered by his Bioglove. The hammer glowed blue as it received power from his Bioglove, leaving a light trail behind his wake as he dashed into the construction site. My head followed him as he sped across the open space of the road.
Andrew caught on. “What are you looking at?” he asked, turning his head to see what I saw. “Oh, crap.”
I was more enthusiastic, and willing to share it. “What do you mean, crap? That’s awesome! I just got to see a courier playing!”
Andrew put his head in his hands and sighed deeply. “Goddamn groupies,” he mumbled.
I crossed my arms and pouted playfully. “Hey!”
Andrew quickly changed the subject. “Susan’s probably in the convenience store.”
I sighed as he tapped me on the shoulder to go. The temptation was too much; I was going to snoop and Andrew couldn’t stop me.
“I’ll be waiting in the store, Andy,” I lied. “Get her and come back.”
Andrew sighed. “Go in the store, I’ll be mad as all hell if you get picked up by some thugs because you followed a crush through the bad part of town,” he said as he walked into the shop.
If only he knew, I thought.
Walking to Joe’s while keeping my eye on the Store Andrew walked into, I backed away towards where I saw Hammerhead Jack go to. I walked past the city block with the early stage construction site and another block with residential buildings, many up for sale or rent. I kept myself within eyesight of the corner of Joe’s store, allowing my to easily run there if I wanted to in theory.
I don’t know how much help Joe’s place could be if I got in the sort of trouble that required me to run away.
Eventually I encountered a more developed construction site, clearly taking the form of a stadium. I was able to get a look from one of the openings where the stadium hasn’t been constructed yet, and there I saw the couriers in the centre of the stadium pitch, planning the round.
The delayed round was being played before me, and I had a chance to watch it. Excitement took over as I sneaked under the stands, allowing me to hide myself while getting a view of the Couriers.
Hammerhead Jack was there, talking to another player with his team behind him. I could see all four of his teammates, and knew their names by heart. Red Raven, Fifty Fifty, Drillbit, and Anarchy. Together they called themselves the Abovers. A terrible team name, but an interesting combo of tools and players.
They used Triple finger gloves instead of the standard five finger model, and illegally boosted their power consumption by lenthening the input contact that touches the skin.
Biogloves naturally run off bio-electricity, using an input contact to take faint electrical and magnetic force and convert it into electricity. With this extra power, they could power their tools and armour. Makeshift weaponry that is harmless to them because of their own armour, powered by Bio-electricity. The military perfected that tech years ago, but it became public as a replacement for bullet proof vests and so on. ‘magic is real’ was the advert slogans for bio-electric tech. It was almost true.
Red Raven was to the right. He was wielding his trademark talons, his beaked mask and black cloak hiding his body and giving him a plague doctor appearance. I could see the red glow of his Bio-armour under his cloak.
Fifty Fifty wore two bio gloves and wielded a shield and sword like tool combo. The shield was a ranged repelling device that could sent heavy debris across a large distance easy, and the sword used a similar tech to cut from a longer range than normal, too. He was at the far right.
On the left side, Drillbit was looking at anarchy. Her helmet and facepaint wasn’t as good of a disguise, but it was speculated online that she had something to alter her voice and wore eye colour changers. Her drill-lance was spinning away idly.
Anarchist was holding a small metal tube and pointing at it as he tried to get Drillbit’s attention, possibly repelling grenades he and Fifty Fifty made. He was a smart guy, and wore a silly disguise similar to old images of anarchists from propaganda posters. He was at the furthest left.
On the other team I saw team Mad Science. The group consisted of Immolator, Cutter, Jackal, Roman and Searchlight.
Immolator used stolen heat emitters used by riot police, that worked by giving th sensation of extreme heat to irritate. These devices gave their waves off in a single direction over a distance. His wires from his modded triple finger glove looked like magma as they covered him and his brownish reddish covering. He was the team leader, but everyone saw his control was superficial.
Cutter was standing to the left of Immolator. He was known for being the team leader in all but name, and for using an array of knives. He had a blue and black colour scheme, and acted like an ass on camera. Andrew would name him every time the subject of couriers came up if he watched this stuff.
Jackal was faster than most other couriers, using his crossbow like harpoons to catch people and a tracker kit with darts to keep tabs on them if he can’t get a good shot in or Immolator tells him to team up with Searchlight. He dressed like a dog with the mask and clawed gloves, and was known to be Cutters lackey and the second reason why Immolator isn’t the team leader.
Roman dressed like the name implies, with the red and gold outfit and a face mask reminiscent of a gladiator. His name was also a pun, as instead of wielding the weapons gladiators used, he attacked from range with his home made firework rockets and flares. He was using a second pun; Roman Candles.
Searchlight was a scout who used no weapons apart from a baton in emergencies. He didn’t normally fight if he had the option of running away, and mainly used a drone and camera to find packages and couriers.
Immolator and Hammerhead Jack were arguing. It wasn’t heated as you’d expect from two groups of criminals playing a bloodsport, but still an argument and as far as I could tell from the body language it was tense.
I could barely make out the words.
“–referee’s not here dumbass,” finished Hammerhead. “We can’t do this, no camera, no package.”
Immolator scowled at Hammerhead and crossed his arms. “We could just fight for real, you know you’d enjoy that.”
Hammerhead groaned ad turned away, dismissing his comment with a wave as his team followed him.
“What, afraid you’d lose?” asked Jackal, her voice modulator off. She sounded different with it not overlaying barking and altering pitch.
I took a moment to realize that Jackal was a girl. That was new.
Cutter shoved her hard and Jackal stumbled. “Watch the fucking voicemods, dumbass!”
Jackal quickly touched something on her helmet and spoke, her voice back to how it should have sounded. The barking and deepness she was known for was there again.
“Fine, just don’t hit me.”
Hammerhead Jack waited for them to stop before speaking.
“I’m not stupid, and neither is anyone on my team. We’ll wait for the ref and package.”
“Ref might not be here,” Cutter cut in. “Could be missing.”
“You know well your whole team would be screwed if that was the case,” replied Red Raven, his voice as shrill as his modulator. “You’d be retired for good.”
The conversation was one part interesting and one part revealing. Did they actually imply murder, twice? I thought that was mainly an act. They were teens playing an illegal sport, not murderers.
Or at least, not attempted murderers. Even Cutter hasn’t attacked anyone on camera, as far as she could remember. There was one incident where he threatened A member of another team, but that was him being a heel, right?
It didn’t matter, the referee came onto the pitch, waving his arm and whistling.
“Hey, no fighting.”
He was wearing a completely white and featureless mask, and white and black striped referee clothing. He was carrying two briefcases in each hand.
Both sides turned to look at him as he put the briefcases down on the sand. The pitch didn’t even have grass yet. He opened them, and took out a screen from one case. He fiddled with it using his gloved hand, and six circular drones shot out, and scarrered in the air.
“We’re live, kids,” he announced.
The second briefcase had the packages. There were three in a game, and the rules of courier were simple; get all three and hold them for 10 seconds. How you got them was what made the game so brutal. It was a violent, brutal scramble to grab and keep all three packages at the same time.
The six drones hovered around the two teams and referee. I’d never seen their cameras before.
“And ten, nine, eight…”
The announcer began the count and in excitement, I mouthed out the countdown along with him from my hiding place.
“…three, two o-” I had a hand cover my mouth from behind, surprising me. I turned around and saw it was Susan, caught between trying to be cross and failing to hold back a smile.
“Didn’t think you’d run away like that,” she said.
I shushed her and pointed at the referee. The two teams split up already, and the ref was picking up both of the briefcases.
“Where were you?” I asked quietly. “Andrew was looking for you in the other shop.”
“I was,” replied Susan. “And he’s pissed.”
I saw Andrew, who was a mix of angry, sad and disappointed. I expected him to scold me like a child.
“You stupid girl,” he whispered. “look at us! We’re trapped under some bleachers while maniacs are running about with fucking flying cameras everywhere!”
How long was he here?
“It’s okay,” I said, trying to calm Andrew down. “We can sneak out the side.”
“But you won’t,” he added.
Susan decided now was the best time to wrap her arms around each of our shoulders in an embrace, a grin plastered on her face.
“Let’s watch a few mins of it, then try and sneak out while they are distracted.”
She turned to Andrew and gave a look which I assumed was her puppy-dog pout. Andrew gave in.
“I can’t drag both of you back without getting us all in trouble,” he justified to himself.
I turned to look out the bleachers. The referee was gone, but Jackal was chasing Fifty Fifty through the field.
Fifty Fifty turned around as Jackal caught up and raised his shield. Jackal quickly dodged to the side, but he was too slow. Fifty Fifty adjusted his aim as Jackal tried to close the gap and got a direct hit.
Jackal was knocked off his own two feet as the shield repulsed him and sent him backwards. Fifty Fifty spent no wasted time turning back around and running away across the bleachers next to where I was hiding.
Jackal’s Bioglove lit up as his armour protected him from hurting himself as he impacted the dirt. He coughed a few times and slowly began to get up.
“Fuck,” he muttered. “That smarts.”
I turned to see Andrew and Susan’s reactions to the display before us. Susan was entertained, leaning in. Andrew was anxious instead, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Andrew, how are you holding up?” I asked.
“We need to leave,” he whispered, visible stressed. “It’s dangerous here, what if one of them hides under the bleachers?”
Jackal was on his feet and ran up the staircase right above us. A chill went down my spine at the thought of being caught. I stayed silent as We heard him quickly move away to look for Fifty Fifty.
Andrew grabbed my arm gently and progressed us further along the underside of the stadium bleachers.
“Way back’s too risky, let’s go.”
I decided it was time to split. It wasn’t as interesting to see live as the fights were spread out.
We reached a dead end, the only exit maintenance door into the stadium building. Andrew checked it, and it luckily didn’t have a lock installed. He opened it and went in.
“Come on,” he beckoned.
Susan followed with me behind her. I closed the door.
We heard fighting inside. Drillbit, Roman and Immolator. The whizzing sounds of fireworks filled the building.
“Shh,” said Andrew as he slowly crept in the only direction allowed to us in the staff access; up a staircase. We got up two flights of stairs before we noticed the sounds from Roman stopped. The staircase led to a hallway going in two directions, I didn’t wand to risk being seen, and neither did Susan or Andrew.
“Drillbit was caught,” said a voice. Red Raven. A beeping and clicking noise followed.
“She’ll be fine, the ref has it out for Cutter and if anything happens he’s dead,” said anarchist.
I slowly crept backwards down the stairs as they got closer. Everyone did.
“Still, we shouldn’t be waiting for the bastard to make the first move,” Red Raven replied. I could see Andrew nod as he said it, an agreement between two people who shouldn’t see each other. “It makes me feel complacent in him pushing it.”
“He does it to everyone, like Siren and Redzone.”
Anarchist and Red Raven walked by, Anarchist placing a mine on the wall in front of us. Our way was blocked. No, we were stuck in place. Andrew was furthest in front, but when the mine beeped twice I knew what happened; It registered his Bioglove, and set off.
Now, luckily Anarchist and Red Raven were between us and the Mine, because they took the full hit, and their armour protected them. Unluckily, that meant that we were noticed, and we still got hit by the flashbang, even if it wasn’t as bad as the two Couriers.
I had tinnitus ringing in my ears, Andrew and Susan must have had worse.
For a second I thought to drag them down stairs, but Red Raven was knocked down the stairs behind us from the blast and was getting up. Anarchist was knocked out cold, his head bashed against the railing of the stairs as it went up another flight of steps.
“Shit,” I said, grabbing Susan by the arm. “Up, let’s go.”
she looked at me as I grabbed Andrew and pulled him to his feet, He stumbled up the stairs.
“Hey,” said Red Raven, getting up. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Susan pushed him in the chest, hard and he failed to catch her as he grasped at her and the railing. He tumbled back down the stairs, his armour taking the impacts for him.
“Run!” I yelled, heading down what I hoped was an un-mined corridor. We tried every door, some were dead ends, some weren’t.
A drone tuned around the corridor as we reached the end. A camera drone.
Andrew threw his hands over his face and swatted at the thing, cutting his palm over the propellers as he hit it.
“Shit,” he said as blood shot from his wound and the drone hit the floor. “That hurts!”
Susan ran ahead. “We have to get out, now!”
I knew that. We were in deep trouble, the referee saw us. I covered my ears as the sound of the drone screeching filled the hallway. Fuck. Andrew continued to open doors to look for a way out.
“We have three unwanted guests interfering, players,” said the referee as he spoke through the drone, loud and clear. A drop of sweat dripped down my spine. “I’ll forgive any misbehaviour if you catch them. They are hallway 104. Two girls and one boy. The boy is blonde, in sandals, green shorts and has a Hawaiian shirt on, the first girl in a black jacket and jeans and the second girl in a white shirt with black hair.”
“He saw us,” said Susan, terror seeping into her voice as it was too quiet.
104? I thought about it. There can’t be that many hallways. The 10 thing must mean we are on the first floor, which was obvious as this the first hallway we saw. The only question left was why would he state it like that, did the Couriers know the floor plan that well?
Even when the stadium was so minor and still in construction?
I shook the thought away, running until I saw an actual exit. A car park entrance. It was a staircase looping around an elevator shaft.
Andrew followed behind me and Susan, he removed his shirt and bandaged his hand with it. He used his left one, luckily.
I just realized I needed to get my Bioglove back from Joe’s. Dammit.
Susan was the first one down the stairs, me following behind. Andrew couldn’t sprint as fast, holding his hand in his shirt.
“Fucking hell this hurts,” he said behind me.
I felt a punch to my gut. “Shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize this would happen.”
I hoped he wasn’t mad at me. I got him hurt because of this. Susan reached the door to the car park and Roman shot at Susan when she opened the door. A direct hit sent her into the elevator shaft.
“Susan!” yelled Andrew. Luckily the shaft was a ground floor level, and there wasn’t a basement level. Still, Susan was hurt. Her shirt and stomach had burns and singe marks where she was hit, and she had the wind knocked out of her.
A second rocket interrupted our moment of terror as it hit the elevator shaft again from the open door, making Susan scream.
“Come out and I won’t hurt you,” announced Roman. “I promise.”
“Fuck off,” yelled Andrew in response.
A second passed, and Roman gave a retort in the form of another rocket.
I ran to the door and pulled it closed after it hit the shaft.
I turned to check on Susan. “Susan?”
Susan was shaking, but she was up, limping to the elevator shaft. Andrew grabbed onto her and pulled her up out of it. She brushed herself off and put her arm around Andrew’s shoulder. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy followed by guilt.
We might die or be kidnapped and I’m thinking about high school drama, I thought as I scolded myself internally. No, it was worse. I was still ignoring the fact that the people I was a fan of were attacking me, and got two of my closest friends hurt. Roman even attacked first.
I asked the question we didn’t want to ask. “What do we do?”
Andrew gave me a foul glare. I understood. Two of us were hurt, a maniac was pinning us at the bottom of a staircase, and eight others were closing in, each with weapons that could kill us if they wished.
I took a deep breath, opened the door and charged out.
The shock wave from the rocket as it hit the ground next to me nearly took me off my feet and blinded me, but I knew where it came from. I made a beeline for Roman as he stood behind a pillar.
I turned around it as he pointed his launcher at me and I pushed it away to the side as he fired. The shot went off in the distance and he was too slow to react as I gave him a headbutt.
It hurt me more than it hit him as his armour took the impact, waves of energy flowing into his bioglove from where I hit him. He still reeled back from my hit however.
He went for a punch as he stepped backwards but I decided to grab onto him and tackle him to the ground.
Even though he was a guy and stronger than me in theory, his Bio-armour weighed him down. He fell over with me on top and I took the time to punch him repeatedly with both of my fists until his armour couldn’t take the strain and broke.
Three swift jabs to the side of the head and he was out.
I got up, turned and yelled for Andrew and Susan to follow. They did, but painfully slowly in comparison to the adrenaline rush I had.
It was only fitting that ran up ahead outside of the garage, only to see Hammerhead Jack and Cutter standing there. They were positioned just out of sight from the right position, but in a way that they’d come into view as you left the car park. Hammerhead was holding onto his hammer, and cutter a knife.
Cutter smiled behind his mask as he saw me freeze, out of breath from my spint. “Hey here, sweetcheeks.”
I took a step back and turned to see Immolator, Drillbit, Searhlight and the Referee close in on Andrew and Susan. It was six against two, and they had the advantage.
They had every advantage.
I turned back to Hammerhead and Cutter.
“So, what to do with you?” asked Cutter with a sinister tone.
Hammerhead stuck his weapon in his way. “That’s for the sponsors to decide,” he said.
I felt it was the only chance I had, and I felt as thought this would save my life.
“Jack?” I asked, my voice cracking in fear.
“Yeah?” asked the man before me.
“I-I’m a fan, so could I have an autograph if I’m not going to be k-killed?”
Hammerhead Jack smiled as everything went suddenly dark and I lost my ability to move. I went limp in the dark and passed out.