Authors: Drake Collins
© 2013 Drake Collins
All Rights Reserved.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.
Cover image courtesy of: http://dagwanoenyent.deviantart.com/
Table of Contents
yn yelled excitedly. Maximillia scurried over, a waifish youth, hands in the pockets of her sweater. Her long, dark mane framed a doll-like countenance complete with a mischievous little smile. She tucked a curtain of her long locks behind her ear revealing eyes too big for her head and a smooth, virginal complexion. Her dark eyes beamed brightly and her skinny, bird-like legs—which were shivering in nervous delight—jutted out from beneath her baggy top.
“When are they going to get here?” Maximillia asked, brimming with exhilaration.
“They’re on their way.”
“Do you know where it’s going to be?”
“You know that old molecular assembly plant?” Taryn offered.
Maximillia’s face crinkled. “But that’s all way out near the sand fields.”
“Yup.” Taryn smiled wide. “Way out there. Nothing but surveyors and sand for sixty kilos in every direction.”
“Who’s going to be there?”
“Mardo’ll be there. The whole ladder of them. I hear that they even bribed the cops to keep the sentry droids out of the area so there won’t be any snooping. We’ll have the whole place to ourselves.”
A worried excitement overtook Maximillia. She’d never been so far out of the city and never beyond the ever watchful eye of her father, Gareth. He doted over her but she was at the age where she was always running and his time in the Mechanized Infantry made sure that he wasn’t nearly as mobile as he needed to be to keep up.
The Bay Bruisers were a pissant motley bunch of miscreants, dregs and lowlifes who congealed together into a diseased super-organism. They were scroungers and scavengers and owned nothing of their own; they were truly the bottom-feeding maggots of Mandra Bay. Girls like Maximillia and Taryn idolized and deified them; it was a strange, sick irony that the virginal princesses whose wombs would eventually carry the potential of the future craved the seed of the most vile of donors, but this was life. Desperation and neglect spawned this kind of aimless
self-destruction and the city produced girls like them by the thousands. Gangs like the Bruisers willingly absorbed them into their ranks. Typically, girls as young as Maximillia and Taryn weren’t good for territorial enforcement, coercion or clandestine larcenous expeditions, but they served as morale-boosting physical rewards for the viciously craven shock troops that splayed out across the network of rain-soaked streets.
A dingy, boxy hover transport lumbered up to the sidewalk; its
engines sputtered and sparked as it shook with worrisome intensity. The passenger door swung open and Chota, the pock-marked, yellow-toothed cad behind the wheel, unceremoniously waved them over, a toco stick dangling from his lips. “Maximillia? Taryn?” he barked.
The girls nodded sheepishly.
He slapped the seat. “Well, let’s go! You comin’ or not?”
Maximillia and Taryn looked at each other for a moment before hustling into the van. Taryn plopped down next to Chota and Maximillia slammed the door shut as the van plowed on. The liquid thorium engine whined and thrummed horribly. The girls winced at the sound, this entire e
ndeavor quickly becoming a sensory overload.
“So, who’s your sponsor again?” Chota asked, his hoarse voice towering over even the brash yammer of the engine.
“Umm, Kee-Ara,” Maximillia offered meekly, almost as a question.
Chota guffawed knowingly. “
Ohh, I know Kee-Ara. A lot of us know
The girls looked at each other, feigning smiles. Chota
peeped at them and saw fresh meat. Maximillia was mostly bundled in her baggy sweat shirt, but Taryn was dolled up more gaudily: pink-dyed hair and a mask of make-up which accentuated her cherubic features; a tight, chromic tube top with a built-in, flexible video screen mesh that played a snippet of an annoyingly popular saracian soap opera on a loop; a tight black mini-skirt with a hexagonal design and
built-in enviro-mimetic print, red fishnets and some clodhopper infantry boots. She was instantly fuckable. Chota’s appetite was whetted.
“You’re both going to fit right in,” he added. “Party all day, party all night. Kryta be damned, we party in our sleep.”
“When do you find time to sleep?” Maximillia asked, trying to sound clever, drawing a convicting glare from Taryn.
Chota laughed. “We don’t so much sleep as we pass out and wake up when we’re sober.”
The girls nodded, their passive ignorance hidden behind nervous grins.
“Most of all, we’re free. Free to do what we want when we want and there’s always some new experience waiting right around the corner,” he said as he offered his toco stick to the girls.
Maximillia shook her head. “No, thank you.”
Taryn, not wanting to chicken out, hesitantly took the stick from his hands and took an awkward puff, coughing out the purple smoke before settling into it.
Chota belted out another garish belly laugh. “You girls seem tense. You’re not afraid of ol’ Chota, are you? I’m the last guy you need to worry about. I’m the ferryman and I’m taking you somewhere you’re never going to want to come back from.”
He suddenly slapped his hand down on Taryn’s upper thigh, clenching it firmly. The pink-haired doe didn’t resist. In fact, she smiled as she took another puff from the toco stick.
The trip out into the desert was tense. Maximillia still didn’t know if what she was getting into was a wise decision. Frankly, she didn’t know what she was getting into. It was a pure mystery. She was sailing over the crest of a wave into uncharted territory. She’d heard stories about the Bruisers and seen their tags polluting the walls of shops all around the worst parts of Mandra Bay, but they were a largely mythic phenomenon. The few times she saw Bruisers was when a micro-cell of them was loitering around a street side cafeteria automat waiting for unsuspected victims to try and buy a bowl of dried noodles. When they strolled up they’d get significantly harassed, liberated of some of their uni-creds by being forced to run their thumbs across the cashier scanner and buy the Bruisers some chow. This was easier than cutting off a hand, but that probably wasn’t beneath them, either.
They weren’t known for any kind of murderous shenanigans, though. They were more a nagging pebble in the city’s shoe; not life-threatening but certainly not a constructive component.
At this distance into the desert most of the solar-powered roadside track lights were blown so all navigation had to be relied upon via the digital screen overlays in whatever transport one was traveling in; flying blind—in a way—in a sea of darkness. Perhaps it was a poetic note on the proceedings that the girls were rocketing into a lightless place of mystery, or into the depths of some hellish doom.
Coming over a hill, the foreboding former molecular assembly plant rested just within eyeshot. It was a mountainous pile of tangled pipes, angular edifices and several towering silos. Only the sliver of moonlight wrapped around the silhouette of the complex revealed it in the vast expanse of sand. Butterflies began to swarm within Maximillia.
She had her concerns about the Bruisers, but the mane-crowned belle was certainly no angel herself. She wasn’t quite old enough to join the Expeditionary Fleet Academy, but she was old enough to have a growing rap sheet that saw her earn temporary tenancy within some of Mandra Bay’s juvenile correction centers and detention facilities. Her father, Gareth, couldn’t afford to get her into the finer state hospitals with his middling pension, so he had to suffer through a cycle of seeing her rushed through the turnstiles of one ineffective reeducation camps after another.
A petty theft here, a disturbance of the peace or breaking and entering there and the pinches added up. The local federal police branches became intimately familiar with her. She was a career outlaw in-training as far as the profilers were concerned. She’d always come out of lock-up, supposedly reformed, but within weeks she’d be out raising hell with another band of wide-eyed, bucktoothed miscreants.
Being a single father in and of itself wasn’t easy for Gareth, but having Maximillia openly resist tranquility in favor of an increasingly dangerous lifestyle only teased his pulse further. His love couldn’t reform her, nor could it influence her better judgment, which appeared to be absent almost entirely.
The van rolled up to the complex’s main gates where a couple of Bruisers waited. Chota slowed the van to a stop and the men gravitated towards it, looking in. Chota fist-bumped one of the men and started chit-chatting with him as the girls sat silently, eyes darting about. The Bruisers peeked in at them, grinning from ear to ear and made some incomprehensible comments to each other, no doubt something that would’ve made their mothers cringe.
The head gate guard slapped the hood of the van and it ambled into the complex. As the transport penetrated deeper inside, the girls noticed it was conspicuously undressed as the location of a bash. Then again, Maximillia realized that this had to be intentional because if
you’re somewhere you’re not supposed to be you don’t announce you’re there.
Finally, they noticed a smattering of Bruisers peppered about the compound. They were clearly a sundry throng of degenerates. Their hairstyles ranged from shaved heads to horizontal mohawks. All of them were draped in brassy body ink and wrapped in torn, stained shirts and pants and mud-spattered boots. Most of them were in dire need of teeth and all of them definitely appeared in need of bathing. Strangely, though, she was intrigued by the entire aesthetic and, on an even deeper philosophical level, what these miscreants represented and why she was attracted to the concept of them. They were outcasts, shunned by society, so they shunned society right back. This set a dangerous precedent that justified their actions in her mind. She saw them through the hopelessly green eyes of a rebellious little girl who was unaware of the dangers that her naiveté could invite.
The density of the Bruiser population grew as they moved deeper inside. Thudding, rhythmic beats could be heard reaching out from within the building. Finally, the van stopped and Chota hopped out.
“Okay, ladies. We’re here. Let’s go inside. I know Mardo is going to want to meet you," Chota said with a grin.
Maximillia and Taryn piled out and followed the pock-marked Chota past groups of fellow Bruisers who gave the girls passing glances of interest followed by chuckles and incomprehensible chatter.
Entering the main production chamber of the plant, the girls found it completely
retro-fitted into a vagabond’s paradise. The Bruisers had transformed it into a party palace worthy of the present rabble. The catwalks were peppered with members of the gang and hypnotic electronic music blared from flat-speakers which hung from wires crisscrossing the upper platforms.
Chota and the girls cu
t a swath through the savage proceedings and approached a
semi-transparent plastic drape which partitioned off a smaller section of the building from the rest of it. He pulled the drape aside and the girls saw a smaller contingent of gang members congregated inside. Chota waved them in and they quickly scurried inside.
Mardo sat at the far end of the room on a makeshift throne that was essentially an ancient dentist’s chair with a sundry assortment of random machine parts
that were fused to it. He was surrounded by an inner circle of loyal lapdogs whose gazes swung over to the girls.
“Here’s the girls Kee-Ara was talking about,” Chota announced.
“They down? They want to join up with the revolution?” Mardo barked with a deep, growly swarm of a voice.
Chota chuckled, scanning the girls head to toe. “Yeah, they’re down.”
Mardo popped to his feet and the lapdogs parted, giving their master a clear path. The head bruiser was an easy six and a half feet of towering testosterone. He was a barrel-chested brute with swollen, veiny arms complemented by a distended gut that doubled as a firewater waste disposal unit. His shaggy, greasy mane was a wave of dark and stormy-grey streaks and his chin and neck were painted with unkempt salt-and-pepper stubble. He had a dangerously seductive smile that revealed a maw of yellowed teeth.
He quickly eyed the girls up and down, momentarily distracted before he turned to his lowly Bruisers and gestured them away. “Well, shoo
shoo, now! I got company! I want these girls to feel comfortable! You looky-loos are making them nervous! Look at ‘em, shivering like little birds in a storm.”
The bruisers quickly scuttled off in response to Mardo’s light-hearted gesture. Then, it was just he, the girls and Chota. For several protracted moments Mardo just scanned the girls, as if assessing their value. His creepy half-smile somewhat exposed his state of mind.
Mardo finally brought his eyes up until they met Maximillia’s. “What’s your name, girl?”
The dark-haired pixie glanced at Taryn before looking back at the gang leader. “Maximillia,” she uttered softly.
“Maximillia! What a beautiful name. Come here,” he said, waving her over. As she unquestioningly walked towards him, Mardo looked at Chota, gesturing him away with a tilt of his head and a knowing wink.
Chota nodded, putting an arm around Taryn and turning to guide them both out of the room. “C’mon, girl. We’ll give you the grand tour.” They vanished past the plastic drape leaving Maximillia alone with the Bruisers’ head honcho.