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Scout Sparrow

Chapter 2

We ran out the front. The sun was high in the sky by now and it threw a whole new spectrum of colors over the desert. Mostly brown. Then I saw Venus, hunched over a figure lying about a hundred meters from us. I realized who it was and my heart fell like a stone that had been dropped into a lake tied to a lead weight. It was Night-Streamer.
I pelted over to where they were. Night-Streamer was covered in burn marks from where she’d obviously taken blaster shots as well as a larger burnt area on her coat. Her clothes were scorched and ripped and I could see a number of nasty looking gashes that could only have come from a knife of some sort. The hair on the back of her head was mated and covered in blood from what looked like an impact of a heavy blow.
“Get her inside,” I said to Sparrow. He nodded and went over to Venus. Venus didn’t look up as Sparrow lifted Night-Streamer from her. I turned to Doc Dread.
“Go with him, if anything happens contact me on my short wave transmitter.”
Doc Dread looked solemn as he turned and followed Sparrow back to the garage. I turned back to Venus.
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to need help out here and, although I’m sure Sparrow would be grateful for the help, I’d rather you weren’t in his face for the moment. Ok?”
She looked up. Her eyes were full off tears. I knelt down so I was at her eye level.
“Look” I said, “We need to find out what happened. Crash is probably still out there. It’s the best thing we can do if we want to help Night- Streamer, is to find out what happened.”
She nodded and wiped her eyes with the bandana she wears around her wrist. I offered my hand as I stood up.
“Come on, we’d better get going. The desert dogs are going to be all over this place in an hour.”
It didn’t take us long to find Crash.
We followed the trail that Night-Streamer had made dragging her-self back, until we got right out of the outskirts of town. We could see smoke rising in the distance and as we got closer we could see the remains of a burnt out car.
The smell was awful. I have smelt death before, doing this you smell it frequently, but combining it with the stench of burnt rubber, the fuel & the effect of the radiation makes the smell unbearable. Inside the car were the burnt out remains of a body. The car was blackened, the windows had blown out & there was no interior left. There were footprints everywhere and tyre marks leading away from the wreck in both directions. Whilst I was examining the area around the car, Venus had gone over to the body. She looked up after a few seconds.
“It’s definitely Crash, look, his symbol” She held up a charred piece of string. Dangling from it was a cartoon burst inside a circle, Crash’s Renegade symbol.
“This had to have been the faceless,” I said turning back to the tracks. “These boot marks are standard faceless issue”
Suddenly I noticed something odd about the tracks to my left.
“However” I said kneeling down next to them “These aren’t. These look more like black market pre-war military style, no faceless wears these.”
Venus came over to where I was for a closer look (at least, that’s what she made out, I think she just wanted to be close to some-one after this ordeal).
“Who wears pre-war military boots?”
“I don’t know. A few Renegades maybe, Halos definitely, but they never come this far out from Monroeville.”
Just then my transmitter buzzed. I whipped it out of its holster with unusual energy for such a situation. Maybe I just needed good news. Though I doubted I was going to get any.
“Yo. What’s the latest Doc?”
The Docs face appeared on the screen. He looked strange; something not helped by the bad lighting in the transmitter room.
“We’ve just received a distress transmission.” The Docs voice sounded concerned, even through the usual poor quality sound of the transmitters. “The signal is even worse than usual”
I looked at Venus. She seemed just as puzzled. It isn’t very often we get any outside transmissions. Ok, we never get outside transmissions, except with a few notable exceptions & the less said about those the better.
“Ok, send it.”
The Docs face disappeared from the screen & was replaced by the face of a girl. She had to be around the same age as me, maybe a few years younger. Her hair was dark and messy. She looked like she hadn’t slept for days & like she had been running for most of those days. Her voice was very small, even over the transmitter.
“Hello, is anyone there?”
“Hi” I said. As I replied to her transmission I could see her face light up on the screen.
“Thank god. Some-ones answered me. I’ve been trying all day.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Ruby-Star, I was a member of the Zone 4 Renegades from out west of Jago, but we were attacked by faceless. I think I’m the last one. I’ve been trying to find another team for 3 weeks now.”
“Ok Ruby-Star, I need to know where you are. To be on this wave length you must be in Jago, but we need to know which part.”
“I’m not sure. I passed a sign a few miles back that said Monroeville Market, so that’s the nearest marker I’ve got.”
That was just what I didn’t want to hear. Monroeville is the most dangerous part of Zone 4. It is the sector of Jago, which surrounds the Hell House, which is where the Halos live. The Halos are an underground gang that started before the war. They’re anarchists, drug runners & murderers and they will attack anyone who strays near one of their “holes”. We try to avoid going anywhere near Monroeville if possible, but this was a special situation. We never refuse to help another Renegade.
“Ok, we’re coming. Stay where you are. We’ll be with you as soon as possible. If you have some sort of radio signal transmitter, I suggest you switch it on now.”
“Ok I’ve done that. I’m transmitting that signal on 101.4.”
The signal fizzed out as Doc Dread came back on the screen.
“You get all that?” I asked.
“Yeah, you want me to get everything ready for you and Venus?”
“No, tell Sparrow he is coming, Venus can stay with Night-Streamer. This is going to be dangerous and I want Sparrows scouting skills with us.”
“Yeah, understood.”
“Also, Doc, if the ‘Vette is out of action, best kit the Charger out. We’ll need major firepower here so the bazooka will be needed & tell Sparrow to take the sniper. We’ll be back in a few minutes”
“Did you find Crash?” The question was tentative, as if he didn’t want to know the answer.
“Yes. He’s gone.”