Cochran limped down the same access tunnel he’d led his 8 man crew down into the Dire Docks. They’d got the jump on the Krumplords and the two groups had shot each other to peices. He’d even seen some of them running away.
But at what price.
The last few days had hurt. The brotherhood of the Hidden Flame had hit them hard while protecting Doc Akulas. He’d left 5 guys watching his place. The Cawdor bastards had come from everywhere. Missiles and grenades raining down on his lads. Willie was blown up twice, Jesco had been killed by a grenade, Cochran had to hold him while he bled out... the Atom Cats caught 4 of them and shot them down but could only watch as some fat belly had marched the Dr away at pistol point.
The Dire Docks attack had started beautifully, though Helvis and Cassidy were out. His guys sneaking up on the generator, they’d taken one sentry down, but the second was able to crawl away and sound the alarm.
It was the fiercest gun battle he’d been in. Hasil, the tough SoB had boltered another Goliath, Hannon had taken out two Cochise had shotgunned another, Elvira accounted for one and Cochran bagged one. Another collapsed after taking to much stimms. .
Against any other gang they would have romped home. But those meatheads were two stupid to run.
The King had fallen. Bleeding to death after taking a renderiser to the chest. Elvira had been knocked out cold, Hasil was supporting her now. Or was it the other way round? Hasil has been shot off a 19ft gantry and survived. Barely. He’d been dazed and needed some whiskey fast. Hannon was also grenaded as they’d pulled out, Willie was hurt and would be in hospital for some time. Cochise was a mess... his back, just healed was busted open, and a leg shattered. No good to anyone now... maybe the slave guild might take him?
He pushed that thought from his mind.
It was not a defeat.
Not a victory.
The Krumpheads kept the Docks. But had been pole axed. The Atom Cats Rep would be boosted now.
As his bleeding, battered friends limped back to Garageland, he wondered if it had been worth it....
Orbituary sat a high chair alone in the dim light of an open room in the slag furnace’s basement. It was the only cool place where he could get a respite from the heat pervading the rest of the facility. He could have appropriated a comfortable room from the inn at the Dire Docks, but he was a Goliath, and the furnace is where a Goliath belongs.
He sat there in front of a map of the Dire Docks Zone ruminating on the events that occurred since a recent hive quake had opened the dome once again. The Lords of Krumptown found success early, taking territory after territory, sweeping their ranks and war chest, and building the most fearsome reputation in the zone. However, that reputation has been on the backslide after a string of Pyrrhic victories, statements, and a humiliating loss against their mortal enemies the Brotherhood of the Hidden Flame and the Atom Cats. Now those Delaque upstarts Unagi Moray had deposed the Lords as the most feared gang in the Dire Docks. He would have to put a stop to that...
“Carnage!”, he roared calling for his best champion and second in command. He was answered by the entrance of his second champ, the skull-masked man who bore a skull-emblazoned renderizer, aptly named Skullfucker. No need to mention how he got his name. “Carnage is still in recovery, my Lord. What would you have of me?”
That’s right. Carnage was still recovering from the wounds he suffered defending the Dire Docks from the Atom Cats. Although this displeased Obituary greatly, Carnage was his best fighter and had served him loyally, so he was not about to begrudge him the time to recovery. After all, they had maintained their rule of the Dire Docks Settlement by the skin of their teeth.
“Get your renderizer and round up the boys. We’re moving out.” the leader proclaimed.
“Where are we going, boss?”
“To clean some eels out of the Tunnels, and to make them ours.”
Skullfucker’s mask was cracked, and he was favoring his right side as he found Orbituary to make his report. “The eels have cut and run, boss. Judging by the blood covering the floor of the room they were hiding in, they must have been hurt pretty bad. They left two to die, and I think I saw them dragging off another body.”
Orbituary nodded curtly. “Speaking of blood, what the hell happened to you?”
“The damn door was trapped, I was nearly crushed. The stimms got me back on my feet, and I cut one of the eels down, but now that the drugs have worn off, it hurts like Helmawr’s ass.”
Orbituary spat, “You sound like a pussy, not a champion of House Goliath. The Lords of Krumptown have no use for weaklings, so shut the f**k up or put down your renderizer and piss off! I want a full report on these Tunnels and where they lead. Get on it!”
Skullfucker bristled, but he was in no shape to challenge the gang’s leader. “Yes, my Lord.” He replied coolly and walked off still favoring his right leg.
Orbituary turned to Elvira, the Escher bounty hunter. Tall and lithe, with well defined muscles, an impetuous spirit and nerves of steel, she was one tough bitch. “You earned your pay today,” he said.
“You pay well.” She replied, brushing a lock of purple hair from her stern face, revealing a jagged scar across her right cheek. “But I don’t think our paths will be crossing again soon. I’m leaving the Docks. Got to get back to the old gang.” She checked her twin stubbers and hoisted her grenade launcher, making ready to leave.
“One more tumble in the sack for old times’ sake?” Orbituary asked his old flame, feeing a tinge of lust rising from both his victory and her presence.
They had had a foolish and fiercely forbidden romance when they both were juves in rival gangs in the zone around Sump Rivertown. It ended when they were found out, and she had plugged him six times to prove to her gang leader that there had been nothing between them... that was a long time ago.
She smiled slyly, “At that sweltering dump that you’re calling a hideout these days? No thanks. Besides, you think you’ve gotten any better since that time at Florescent Falls? That was rubbish, Obie.”
Orbituary gave a full-bellied laugh. “If you had been born a Goliath, we would have probably been together.”
“Well, if you had been born an Escher, we certainly would not have. See you ‘round, Obie.” She gave him a wink and walked away, as she had so many times before.
When Orbituary became aware of his surroundings again, he noticed Defiler snickering nearby. “What are you looking at? Go see if Grinder and that juve got those crates open yet. I want to know what spoils we reaped.” The ganger obeyed, but he did not stop his snickering.
Orbituary crossed his arms and betrayed his own pleasure with the day’s events. With this victory, he was pretty sure that the Lords of Krumptown reclaimed their position as the most feared gang in the Dire Docks. Now, where to go from here...
Business was good. Real good, this merchant caravan was full of idiots who couldn't handle their grog and couldn't bet to save their life. The house was up, the creds were coming in... Cochran would be happy.
Elvira grinned as another spook junkie lost his weeks wages to the roar of the crowd.
There was a whistle from one the top balconies, a harsh shrill sound that pierced through the hum of the patrons.
She looked up and saw Cassidy standing on on the top floor, he made eye contact and nodded for her to come up stairs. They were back..
"Cass, your back? How goes it?" She said as she slapped him on the arm after she reached the top. Cochran had lead the Cats out to hit the Shadow Company and force them from the Needleways.
"Bad, Vee, real, bad... like it always does"
She rubbed her head, "Again, fetching Dorns balls... how bad.." The Cats were in a slump, backs against the wall and this was their chance to make a mark and bring one of the top gangs down...
"Not, Krumptown levels of bad", he said rubbing his thigh where that Lord of Krumptown had winged him the other month, "but bad..."
He spat a sticky dark red liquid on the floor, chewing baccy or blood or maybe both...
"you hurt?" She frowned and reached out to steady him.
"No, Im alright, had a melta round go off behind my head and a laser round hit me but didn't burn through my armor"
"Shit Cass, fetching rough.. who else is down?
Cassidy pulled out his comb and tidied his pompadour...
"One of the new guys, Mac he set fire to two of them, could here them screaming down the end of our tunnel, but one of them got up and wasted him, hell live, but his hand is jacked, gonna have to shoot left handed now, Helvis that crazy fucker, he charged that guy, kept at him, the dude kept knocking Helvis back with that blasted energy shield but Helvis kept on going, wounded him too.. that pissed him off. Put Helvis through a wall almost.. he's alright, groggy but no harm done, P.Paul, he was left on the ground crawling after he was hit with one of those suppression lasers.. Cochran.. Cochrans belter was misfiring again, so his rounds splatter off some downed guys armor but couldn't hurt him, that guy jumped up and melta gunned Cochran..."
Elvira's mouth dropped, "Is he..." She couldn't finish her sentence, Cochran was the heart of the gang. if he fell the Cats were in trouble.
"No! The crazy f**k took a melta round to the jaw, but he's not dead, just going to be in a bed for a while.. hell need a drink though"
She shook her head, not many could take a melta round to the chest and still be in one piece.
"Hell need a few drinks actually" Cass continued "when he wakes up. Hannon, took a melta beam as well, picked himself up in time though, basatrds tougher than Cochran"
"Yeah, Bastards fine, almost ready to smash his heavy bolter, thing jammed on him twice, he was only able to fire off two rounds before it gave up the ghost. Thank god for him, He mashed their leader good and proper though and took another out, he gave the order to peg it... as much as we could... not easy to peg it carrying three fethed up guys, when two of you are bleeding and a massive cyber hound is pining for his owner. When we gonna catch a break Vee?
Elvira shook her head, "Ulanti's Teats! I don't know, Cass.. I don't know"
Willie Manchester loved life. His Life. And Women. All women. Escher women were little tricky but nice to look at and sometimes fun if they had the right inclinations. Willie had a woman in many town and places, he treated em nice they sometimes got little bits of information from them. He could be killed at any time, his last skirmish nearly did that to him, three or four times he was hit with rockets or grenades.. it had been terrifying, but it also reinforced to him that his life was destined to be short, so he should enjoy every minute of it that he could.
His recovery had been VERY enjoyable, that girl from Krumptown had come to visit him every week, So had the bar girl from the Third Best, that lass that worked on the Corpse farm, the young lady who was supposed to be the girl of one of The Shadow Company guys in their settlement out east, the hooker from Dire Docks, that rookie enforcer chick, the merchants daughter, Dr Akulas assistant even some pretty, if dirty, young thing who said her brother was a ganger in the Brotherhood Of the Hidden Flame... they'd all come to help him with lots of energetic "recuperation" and he felt good. But they'd all told him things... things the rest of the gang needed to know...
When he reached the meeting, Hasil sat in in Chochrans chair, Cochrans was sleep in the back room, and Chevy the cyber mastiff sat guarding the door. Elvira sat in Hasils usual chair, but everyone else was sitting in their usual places.
"Good to see you on your feet Wille" Hannon greeted him as he sat down.
"Hey Cats, ya missed me?"
"We did, needed some one to soak up the Melta fire..." Hasil growled causing the Cats to laugh..
"The steady stream of women sneaking in and out of Garageland suggests you didn't miss us though" added Cassidy.
"Ha! No, they were instrumental in my recovery, you'd be surprised at what Kenaella sister of Kenelm can do, very pious on the outside but she does thing where she takes your..."
"Anyway!" butted in Elvira, "why did you call this meeting Willie, not just to regale us with your erotic adventures will recovering from being exploded"
"No... two things, first I got this girl who works out on a sump sea skiff, not a pretty girl but real good with her.... anyway she came to .... help me recover, and told me something. The Unagis are prepping, tooling up and getting ready for a big push, they want to challenge the Brotherhood and Krumptown Bores, but first they are coming to the 3 Coin Club, want to finish us off and take the club.. payback for Wasting Ted and Donovan. We gotta be ready there waiting for them.
The other thing is we had a visitor... and emissary from some ...... other Delaques. Not Unagis.. these guys seem strange and more sinister that the Unagis. I think they might be the ones we rumbled with in the tunnels under the Coin Club, but I'm not sure.
Any way, they are offering us a crate of Flechette pistols, Delaque made, ivory handled and a supply of toxin to go with them... in exchange they want our help when they attack the Krumptowners. Figured a small group of us might be willing to go help em out. I known they are Delaques, but this is the Krumptowners were talking about... they killed The King, and they mock us by sitting there on our Toll Road and in our Dire Docks.... so I figured you might want to help them out.. they got an Ambot and we been looking for an excuse to bust out the "new toy.....
Riff Raff sat down at a table with no one on it with his tray. One hunk of Spire bread, Soup, and nutrient paste, these Ulanti factories really took care of you! Shame the overseers were all idiots though. He’d been allowed the rare luxury of an early lunch break. He’d not be eating with the 700 odd other workers who were allowed the same 30 minute lunch time as him. No today he was being allowed to eat at the same time as the admin and management staff... someone must have called in a favour.
“Raff! You great stonking bollix”
Raff looked up to see a pink pompadoured Orlock. Clean shaven, with a skull hanging from one ear, his eyes were hidden behind plain black eye shields, on the front of one he’d painted an ace of clubs. From his belt, hung the black tabard with red flames rising up from the its base. His sawn off shotgun was painted the same pattern. He strode over to Riff Raffs seat and swung himself into the vacant chair opposite. His black leather cut off was patched with metal plates and as Riff Raff observed on his chest was a small white patch with a red border, on it was a grinning cat’s head behind an atomic explosion.
Riff’s eyes widened in surprise and he broke into a grin.
“Marsov? Is that you? You shlanger!! It is!”
“The very same!” Marsov grinned before carrying on.
“Been looking all over for you Riffy. Heard you’d retired. But I thought you’d have gone bounty hunter, slave guild maybe, smuggling at a push.... but back up here. Never thought to look”.
“Aye. Fancied the quiet life. Wanted something were my friends stayed alive for a few months at least. What about you? What’s all this garb? You quit The Reapers?”
Marsov and Riff Raff, had both been juves for an Orlock gang in Sector 17, The Reapers. They’d muscled out 5 other rivals in a bitter turf war over the best part of a year. Then they’d expanded into the Dark Zone, and spent three years allied to some Escher and Cawdor gangs trying to break the back of a massive Delaque outfit, The Addums Family, it had been crazy, but when the smoke had cleared and Dark Zone well lit, the Reapers were stronger than ever and Riff Raff and Marsov were both road captains.
“Yeah. Things went south quickly after you quit. Grimm bought it out in the wastes. Convoy ambush. Ariel tried her best to keep our ranks together, but the Cawdor and Escher turned on each other. We got caught in the middle... Mushtopper and Hu were done in, Bison lost the best part of his brain.... we got dumped on. Lost Friday, Zammo, Kid Ego and Tyra all in the space of two weeks”
“Dorn’ wept, is anyone I know left?” Raff sighed...”and did you come all this way to tell me that the few reapers I knew that are left are all gone?”
“Not quite, It’s not all bad. We fought our way out, those Eschers helped us, think their leader had the hots for Ari. She’s still alive, as is Rebo, Trax, Poacher and Wanda. Though the reapers are no more. Disbanded. There was only 15 of us left, out of 55 we had... which leads me to why I’m here. Ariel hooked up with this guy, part of the crew I’m rolling with now. Atom Cats. Huge outfit. Got chapters all over cluster!
He fell for Ari hard, got us all in, patched over the Reapers. She’s his second in command of our Foundry 47 chapter. Im president of my own chapter now, out by the Rust Gate, Rebo and Trax are my road captains. Poacher and Wanda are with our nomad chapter”
Riff Raff leant back in his chair and raised an eye brow.
“And you want me to join you?”
“Yes. And no. Not me. My sector is quiet. Just some Goliaths to use as target practice every few weeks, no my friend. One of our newer chapters is hurting... they need an ass kicker to help them out”
Riff Raff leant forward, he’d enjoyed his first 6 months out. He always had creds, it was cleaner up here, there was regulated fun to be had in the red light and pleasure districts... but after that he’d had to admit he’d been getting bored. These Ulanti contractors paid well. But they looked down on the workers, and they had a very regimented way of working. It had been grating Riff Raff’s nerves for some time.
“The Dire Docks, you know it?”
“That dome that just opened up out east?”
“That’s it. Close to Garageland, little settlement we run down there. Our Garageland chapter was told to take it over, but it’s been a shit show, Cochran is a solid guy, and he’s got some tough fighters with him, but there’s at least 5 other gangs down there, and our brothers .... and sister... have been getting slammed. Just the other day Cochran and one of his guys got hurt bad in a scrape with some Van Saars. And word is, one of the top firms out there is coming to finish them off. With Cochran laid up, they need some muscle... they’ve got the creds, they’ve made money down there, but they need someone hardcore... you still got Lady stashed somewhere safe?
“I do....so they think they need Lady... must be tough...., but feth it. I’m in, if they are good for the creds. But I’m keeping my hair as it is. None of that pompedour crud. And I’m coming in at Road Captain, I’m not fething about as a soldier”
Marsov beamed at him. “Brother, of course! It has already been arranged. Come, let’s go, my bike is ready outside with some of my crew, even have some cuts for you, well take you to Garageland, I want to check on Cochran anyways, and Macer’s cousin Hannon is also there so we can stay and drink with them for a day or two”.
And so it came to pass, that in their dire moment of need the Garageland AC’s recruited their fourth Road Captain, in readiness for the attack on the 3 Coin Club. The mighty Riff Raff and his not so little lady.