Razz and Fierce, Milk Run Week 3
I’m behind the wheel. Itching like crazy from this stupid outfit.
“Why do we have to wear these again?” We’re dressed head to toe in the firefighter outfits we used from the last job.
“Stop asking questions alright” Fierce responds. “Anyway, what happened with the transportation you dick – I thought you were going to grab Rickey’s Firetruck. We had a plan”.
And that’s the thing. I get carried away sometimes. I forget plans. Almost immediately after their explained. My crew knows this and keep me around anyway. I have other attributes…
The van rattles over every bump – the makeshift steel plating hobbled together to act as armor makes this one hell of a scary vehicle. The van is a large, full sized passenger with very light blue paint (mostly covered by dirt and rust). The interior includes a significant amount of homey comforts, such as chairs, plaques on the walls, an amplifier and other musical accompaniments (keyboards, microphones), and deep-weed paraphernalia. I’ve been living out of this thing for the last 2 weeks.
“Did you have to take this for the job!?!” Pierce says in his condescending tone again. “My god, someone wrote ‘RAPE VAN’ on the side!" Fierce pressures me more about the van… about its conditions, as well as the markings. I reply, “I wrote that. The van doesn’t have any locks, and the word RAPE keeps all the weirdos away”.
This isn’t the first Milkrun that Fierce and I have done together. It is the first time we’ve sold our brutality to a goddamn Evo Corp subsidiary. We make small talk only during the last moments of the commute. Fierce senses my nervousness…everything seems wrong about this job. I’ve built up something of reputation you see. I’m paid to be maim and kill, there’s something of an intimidation factor with hiring me. 5K NuYen to meetup with a Johnson for info. Light gang security, no pros.
I started to argue about the job, just what exactly we were doing and why we were doing it this way but he turns everything into debate. Soon I was tripping over my words. Somehow I agreed to a 40/60 split but snapped out of it just in time reneg. He was toying with me again… “Listen to me”, Fierce says, “everything’s going to be fine. Just hold your shit together, don’t speak, and follow my lead.” I respond hesitantly, this feels like when Uncle Yu…
Fierce cuts me off – “don’t you fucking mention his name again!!!” Tears forming, his anger getting the better of his usual buttery smooth approach. He breaks eye contact, takes a deep breath, and looks back at me with those soulful eyes. He shoots me a pearly-white veneer smile, enough to make anyone swoon. He does this you see, and people follow and love and trust him. This is his version of an apology.
I grin back and give my own version of a smile, the cybernetic mesh showing on the inside of my mouth – jaw half wired shut from the titanium lacing throughout my skull, my teeth a mishmash of chrome and broken yellow.
We arrive at the warehouse facility right on time for the shift-change. I park nice and slow. A punk walks down the long concrete set of steps toward us. He walks toward the passenger side to Fierce. As he approaches, I can tell he knows something is up.
“Hey losers, nice van!” The orc guard looks to be in his early twenties He’s big but he’s just a kid. “You can’t park here, so get lost before I waste you and firebomb your shitty van.” He laughs to himself and reaches for the gun holstered on his hip.
Pierce delivers a shock dart to the punk’s exposed neck and he crashes to the floor, throwing up and shitting himself while convulsing on the rough concrete. Pierce opens the door and steps. He pulls his fire-retardant ski mask over his face. He crouches over the now contorted body and puts his hand on the punk’s shoulder. It looks like he’s checking him for something. Patting him down maybe…?
“What the fuck are you doing Fierce?” He ignores me. I hate it when he does that.
We climb the long concrete steps to the front of the building. The place reminds me of a subterranean courthouse. We post on either side if the door and I pound with my clobber hand. Bang, bang, bang.
“I’m coming Lou, coming”, the sucker props the door open just enough for me to strike out like a camel-spider, I pull him toward me to throw him off balance, then away and down. He crashes to the ground head first and is knocked unconscious. I throw the door open and Fierce slips in, gun at the ready, slicing the pie with his Beretta Model 70, just like Yu taught us when we were little more than street punks ourselves.
Fierce then turns back and crouches to the side of the unconscious door guard. It looks like he’s applying tape or something on the guys back near his shoulder. Why is he patting these guys down after their out? They don’t have heavy weapons on them that I can see…
“What are you doing?” I say. No response.
We make our way down an adjacent hallway and come to our destination. An open door that leads to the data storage leads to the right. There’s another roving punk who notices us way too late, walking through the doorway while staring down at a holo-log.
I dispatch him quickly, uppercut to his jaw and left hook to his core. He topples over, the breath out of him. My hands around his stomach, I lift him above my head and slam him into the concrete. He will never remember due to the trauma I’ve just dealt on his stubby dwarf body.
Fierce crouches down over him, just like the last two. He applies the same sticky tape to this one’s back to. I notice a small blinking receiver in the middle of the application, it beeps.
“I know what I’m doing god dammit, he’s not waking up. What was that sound anyway?”
“Keep your eyes on those corners!” is his only response. What a condescending prick.
We sneak around the corner in tactical fashion and enter a small holding room. There he is, the Johnson. I’m guessing this is the Johnson.
Why did we have to dispatch these punks to talk to this guy about a job? I’m asking myself.
The Johnson is standing behind a towering tall Ice Spirit, and he’s grinning at us. There are surveillance photos of our Renton hideout on the walls, maps of the neighborhood, and a hierarchy chart. Old jailhouse lineup photos of Fierce and I sandwiched between photos of dark silhouettes, the style seen in old detective movies. The name Rachael is written on the wall (who’s Rachael…?) and I see a loop of spyfly footage – the replay ends with her lifeless body sprawled out on the ground and repeats again.
I feel the rage build up and finally put the shattered pieces together from my arguably-disabled comprehension skill. It gets tough sometimes, mostly living in 45-60 minute intervals of clarity followed by fog and mental dissonance… We aren’t here to meet a Johnson. This is a hit. We’re working for the man, hunting Shadow Runners.
I’m cutoff off by the Shadow Runner (who I just previously thought was a Johnson) standing before me. “So, you freaks came to us huh? Razz, I’d recognize you anywhere. The fairy in the mask must be Fierce, unless someone blew Rachael’s tits off! Ares Tech is paying big for your heads. Give up the names of the rest of your crew and I’ll make your deaths quick.” Boots come stomping in behind us, I look over my shoulder to see the 3 guards we dispatched and an axe wielding Troll.
I recognize him as “Chops”. His notoriety is worse than mine. There are now eight of us in this room. We’re trapped between a 3 disheveled thugs plus a maniac with an axe the size of pre-teen and a 3-meter tall Ice Spirit, patiently waiting for Johnson’s command to send us to oblivion. Chops bellows, “We are going to fuck you up you fucking ingrates!"
Fierce calls out, “Funny thing about being universally likable and well-connected, when I hear about a hit on MY crew, you find a way to make you disappear And get paid to do it.” He pulls what looks like an centuries-old RC-car controller from his coveralls and holds it high above his head. It has an ancient soviet emblem and the letters “EVO” emblazoned on it. He yells, "you dickheads notice those Immolation Patches I strapped to your backs? Those are for burning through the kind of steel used in bank vaults” and under his breath, whispers to me, “Rush on signal.” I understand now what’s happening and coil my muscles like a steel spring, ready to sprint forward.
He squeezes the trigger, I hear a deafening “whoooompfff” and in my peripheral I see the thugs burst in flames. The room is engulfed in an inferno. I feel the heat but the fireproof gear protect me from damage. The fiery, blazing punks scream in horror and clutch Chops, as if he can save them from their misery. Chops is screaming, his clothes and long hair now on fire. The room is engulfed in flames. The Ice Spirit shrieking in horror at the site!
This is my cue. I EDGE and all I see is red. I dash toward the Johnson and spear him to the ground. I mount him and stab my thumbs in his eyes, palming his face like an old-timey basketball. He gasps in agony. He’s calling out to his Ice Guardian but it’s no use – the Spirit is paralyzed with terror at the site of the dancing, flaming men in the room.
I’m smashing the Johnson’s head to the concrete now, over and over. I squeeze with all my strength and his skull bursts open like a pumpkin. And just like a pumpkin, the insides slip out like guts and seeds, except more wet. I feel nostalgic for Halloweens shared with Uncle Yu and Zarcain, and then slip back easily into my rage. The Johnson’s head isn’t a head anymore, only the tiny piece of his brain stem is left from the onslaught. I laugh hysterically at my work and stand up over the victim of my onslaught.
The Ice Spirit gives a guttural scream and dematerializes into god-knows-where, his master is nothing but a headless body now. Chops and his punks resemble over charred BBQ. The smell of burning flesh is sweet in the air. I understand now. This was an EVO Corp hit. Zarcain figured out a way for us to get paid for hunting the Runners hired to hunt us.
“Razz…” Pierce says, this time I do sense he’s sorry, “The job was to find these fucks and make them dead. I tried to explain it to you so many times… Let’s get out of here bro”. My mind drifts again. I pay no attention to what he’s saying now. The satisfactory feeling of blood on my hands and burning flesh in the air is somehow calming. I feel renewed.