CHAPTER EIGHT: GROUP

No, you’ll not risk the bunker: in this territory, it’s most likely in the hands of the hyenas, and the last thing you need is to end up between two fires and make the end of the mice.

Push Saul to take to the woods, and the young Initiate of the Iris simply do, suddenly steer clear of doubt or fear, and cast your pursuers into confusion: your bike wasn’t designed for such a route, but not even those of the Hyena’s children. You can see one of your track rider lose control over a branch and end up in a ditch with his bike. And two.

Others are a harder problem: this isn’t clearly their first pursuit among the trees and they seem to know every bend, every trunk and every root of the forest. Their boss, the one who present like Starosta, is absolutely the most tenacious. A couple of times with an attack seems that he can put a limit to your escape, then the third time it does really: his mace gets hit on your side. The shot is not too strong, but it’s enough to get off balance; you have the time only to hope to haven’t cracked a rib before hit the ground. You fall by the right side, knocking Saul down that with a shout losing control of the bike; your head hits a piece of trunk and for a moment the you can see only white points. You try to stand up and see the shadows approach while the view blurs for a moment. Don’t faint shit … don’t faint. Murmur in a low voice until you comes back to see clearly.

The bike, with no more pilot, crashed against a tree; you don’t have much time to think about its condition, but it will not be a repairable damage. Just think about pulling yourself up and grabbing your weapons, while the senses are refreshing on the memory of your ongoing struggle experiences. Saul has also recovered from the fall and together you can only wait for the bikers with the weapons in your hands: Shocker and tube for you, double Shocker for him.

The Starosta and his two remaining followers stop and hold on from their metal hunters. They probably come to the conclusion that the terrain is too sunken to get you in the bikes without risking breaking their neck; in unison they turn off the engine and descend, armed all over. Dieter removes the helmet, under which two blue eyes appear and a sneer hyena tattoo covers all his left cheek. His gaze is severe but doesn’t seem angry, perhaps a little disappointed, like a father with a son too disobedient.

– I told you to stop. You didn’t. You’ve escaped and you hurt two of my men in the escape, but I understand that. I respect it, even. Just show that you are stubborn. However, it’s over. You have boundless in the Dominion of Hyena. You, monk, you’ve freed slaves, causing us big hassle. There is no salvation for you. But you, boy … I’m not a generous man in general, but I appreciate the talent when I see it: I’m still asking you to give us your companion, and again I guarantee for your life. Accept the offer. There will not be a third.

Look at Saul. The Initiate looks back and shrugs, indicating that he will accept whatever you decide. But in fact you both know that you have already made your choice when you have fled. Very well: It is time to see if the time with the Family really taught you something.

You hurl yourself against Starosta, faithful to the theory that once the head fell down, others should be weaker. Saul covers you with the Shockers, aiming at the arms of the hyenas that brand their weapons. Your stupid guns will not be deadly like realweapons, but if you use them well they are great stunts and a well-placed shot on a nerve can really annoy you: the Initiate uses them with mastery, giving you time to sink a violent pipe stroke against face of your opponent.

Needless.

Dieter parry the hit with a lazy slowness, like a ballet he knows every move, and responds with a powerful bang at your belly. The air moves away from the lungs while you take you lump as you have never taken before: this is not a despair of Vastness, or a Mutant cripple. In front of you there is a warrior, trained and aware, who knows what he does. Taking advantage of your stunning, Starosta mullines the mace and hits you in full swing. Right eye. A deaf noise and the tear of something very, too important. With the left you just see falling on the ground a bloody mousse.

Your head explodes again and this time it’s hard to really prevent your body from fainting or vomiting there on the ground. Your opponent moves away, going back to the bike, not considering you anymore a problem, an attitude that raises the anger inside you.

You see him taking something in the bag, see bring it to one of his comrades approaching handling a big rusty knife. Your field of vision is reduced, a strange sense of lack of depth increases your pain in the head. See that the last of the hyena is forcing Saul into a corner.

Then see what Starosta has given to the approaching Hyena. It’s a big chain.

At the moment the man with the chain leans over to you, everything flows back to your only eye. The Horrors of the Family, the Gift Package, being considered a slave, an animal, one thing. At that precise moment something in your head breaks completely: fear.

Scream all your anger, scream that you will not be a slave again, and your body will snap fast. The hand finds the tube on the ground and knocks it on the arm of the hyena; you hear the disturbing noise of bones breaking as the slaver’s hand opens, dropping the knife. The blade doesn’t even touch the ground, grab it with the left, a quick, horizontal gesture, and hyena’s throat erupts in a fountain of blood.

 With a thud falls to the ground while his hot blood floods your face. Notice the look of Starosta change, like that of a man watching a beast. From his bag pulls out a large piece of metal sheet cut to form a machete.

No more Dieter talks, he attacks directly.

But this time you are no longer afraid of dying. Use the knife to divert his hit, rotate on yourself with the speed you didn’t believe to have and hit with the tube. The swing blows the air to hit the back of your opponent, no longer protected by the helmet. Impact, something that breaks. See the Starosta to trip but not to fall, but you don’t want to give him time to prepare an attack with mastery.

You throw on him, punch, shout, bite. Feel the metallic taste of blood on the palate and eventually the clash has become a melee between animals, among violent fairs. You don’t know where your tube is over, you don’t care. Grab a stone and hit his face.

One time.

Two times.

Third times.

Lost the count.

In the end you realize you’re hitting something soft and motionless. Take the breath and all the pain of the wounds and the eye comes to pay its tribute. I’ll get you beside Dieter’s body. Darkness arrives.

Wake up after … who knows how much? You are totally stiff and your headache, if possible, has deteriorated. Your right eye pulsates in a terrible way, and when you go to touch it, you feel a void that terrorizes you. From now on, you’ll have to go with the only eye you have.

You turn. Almost vomit, when you swallow and feel the blood flowing in your throat. Blood is not yours: beside you, the body of the Starosta lies on the ground, its mouth open, its throat crushed by a bite and the top of the skull reduced to a mud. His armor and his dress, curiously, have disappeared. You ask who may have taken them, then you turn and see Saul with a smile on his face and a new armor.

 – He did not need it anymore, after all!

Your friend took care of the last one left. Faithful to his princes didn’t kill him, only tied after having stunned him to shock Shocker. Again, the strange moral code of the monk leaves you out of the question, but maybe that’s better: a prisoner can be interrogated, you will eventually kill him afterwards.

However, the Hyena doesn’t seem to be frightened or willing to cooperate. It simply fixes you, without sketching an escape or a reaction. When you ask how many are and how wide their territory is, he doesn’t answer. Whatever is the way they train these hyenas, it works damn well.

You’re caressing the idea of ​​killing him and going on, when you hear noises coming from your shoulders: you run with the Shocker ready, but aren’t children of the Hyean those who appear from the wood … or at least you don’t believe.

These people, a man and two women: the man is wearing an armor made of recovery material and tires that somehow reminds you Galvax, but the slender body he has is nothing with the muscular colossus that now is somewhere with the Church of Internal Self Combustion; on the back has a huge and clearly heavy bag carrying fatigue, stained with oil and grease.

 The first girl has a light dress that leaves little to the imagination, more or less clean considering the average state of the inhabitant of the vastness. The long gloves and skirt, torn up in order to don’t interfere with the movements, draw your attention even more to the green eyes, the fainted face and the obvious sign of the radiation that devours the neck. A mutant, but the spear that has on her back, made of a stick and a piece of metal sheet, identifies her as a warrior.

The second is entirely covered by a dark green armor, wearing a metallic respirator and despite having his hands raised as her companions can clearly see the First Class Shocker hanging from their backpack, along with knives, grenades and an impressive amount of bags and pockets: looking all the three is surely the most ready to travel in this wasted world. She starts to talk with a quite tone of voice that seems really sincere.

-Dude, keep calm. We don’t want to be a problem, we are all in the same situation. We want only to go to Rad City, like you, and we have decided that in order to pass through the Hyenas territory was better to stay together. The only difference from you is that we have take the woods as a first choice…maybe you would have taken the same decision.

Continue to aim the three.

-Maybe we can introduce us, not? I’m Bet, a Quicksilver Snakes, one of the Ranger’s team, do you know the ranger? I came from Dash Town. The slender over there is Lance, he declares to be an inventor. Is very useful to have near along the trip. He can combine a lot of things our Prebellum, but don’t ask to him to use a shocker. The last one, my friend Brandy from the Brides, and she doesn’t loves the dickheads, but you don’t seems someone that can be a problem. Can we know your names, please?

You say them: after the clash you understand that you can’t have any chance to win against three armed enemies, in addition Beth is unusually persuasive. You tell each other your stories and the way you are arrived there, and discover that you are not the only one that have had terrible experience. All your companions have stories based on pain and suffer, and they are arrived there thanks to personal skills and to collaboration with other people not bad like the vastness can suggests; while you’re accepting that Beth gives you an help with your eye, you understand that also you, in spite of all the problems, have succeed with the help of Dommie, Galvax, Bikini. When you think to the doctor and to his finish, you feel a heavy in your heart. He was a cunt, an opportunist and probably a traitor, but his hand have cure you in the same way Beth is doing now, but with more elegance. He was just a son of this Fucking Postworld.

Beth, obviously the chief of the three, tell you to have seen your clash with the Children of the Hyena. They were ready to take part, but you hadn’t give them time thanks to your savage attack. Then the kindness of Saul with the prisoners have convinced them to came out from the wood and ask you to continue the journey together.

-You seem particularly able to survive – she says – how do you think to go on? We can leave all this shit back and go forward through the woods, even by feet Rad City is near. On the other hand, like Saul did, we swindle the wears of this funny guys, we act to be hyenas in order pass in their territory on the motorcycle. Or we can go to check what there was in that bunker, now we are five and well armed. We can do it in  my opinion….maybe they have better weapons and vehicles.

You think about the alternatives and you feel a new weight: this time you’re not following the suggestion of someone else, this time there are person that are depending on you. Something is changing with the previous fight, you have to take a decision that involve also them.

Your thoughts are interrupter from a gurgle noise. The familiar sound of the lungs that deprive from all the air in a violent manner. You turn and see Brandy, the pretty Brandy, that hold the spear used to kill your prisoner. The man gurgle something indistinct while his body is shaken by convulsions before to stop and stay.  Everybody stationed to look at the execution in cold blood. The bride spit on the corpse of the man while is cleaning the spear.

-One asshole less. He would has caused a lot of problems, and the Hyenas is always better to have them in front of you, cold, and Horizontal – You hear her voice, it’s quite kind but seems based on anger, as if the man on the ground was someone that she hates with all her soul.

– Go on. Do you have something to eat, Lance? I have to clear my mouth.

Yes, it’s clear that you have new companions, but maybe the Brandy’s idea is the best one: the man doesn’t seems prepare to talk and left him there was dangerous. You are a murderer too, but you asking to yourself you would be able to kill with that cold blood.