(If you want, buy their previous rampages for $2 by clicking on the covers below.)
“I’d like to point out that Ben didn’t mark D.C., Maryland, or Delaware on the map,” Lloyd mentions as they sit in the jeep. He cracks open a soda and hands it to Cassidy, who is polishing the dashboard. “This is the curse of the traveling protagonist. When you have specific borders and regions, you get stopped in each one. Doesn’t matter how fast you drive. Is it really the time for that?”
“At least I’m not clipping my toenails,” Cassidy replies, nodding her head toward her partner’s foot. She sprays it with the polisher and curses when some of the liquid gets on the window. “D.C. was a total waste of time, but at least we got to restock in Maryland. Some of those medicines will help us trade our way back home. Not to mention toothbrushes, towels, pillows that aren’t as flat as pancake, and enough underwear to last us a few years. As for Delaware, it’s looking like it’ll be a headache. Still, maybe these people are friendly and will help us.”
“They’ve been staring at us for an hour.”
“To be fair, we haven’t approached them either.”
“You going to get out and play mayor’s wife?”
“Fuck no. You?”
“I’m more of a governor’s mistress type.”
“Well, you are Katie’s trophy boyfriend in a way.”
“There is mounting involved.”
Feigning nausea, Cassidy opens the window and pretends to throw up from the dirty comment. The movement causes all of the men and women on the blockade to raise their weapons. Dressed in patched up clothes and hats made of hollowed out melons, the soldiers stand on and around a metal wall that has wheels on both sides. Two sedans are parked with their chains attached to the barrier, neither able to move until the large clips in the middle of the doors are opened. Harmless chicken wire is coiled around the top, which has potted plants fit into the crooked turrets. A droning whine can be heard coming from behind the wall, the noise stopping with a crunch and a snap. The soldiers shiver with restrained laughter when two people kick whatever machine has broken and yelp in pain at the same time.
“All cheer for Valerio Siege and Hurrica, the Messiahs of the rebellion!” a towering guard bellows from the wall.
Guns fall to the ground as the soldiers clap and whistle, several of the weapons going off and startling the owners. The sedans try to move, but the locked gate causes them to spin their wheels and threaten to overheat. Once the clips are released, the vehicles speed in opposite directions and those still standing on the wall hang on for dear life. The rebels that fall off are tended to by a group of medics, who argue over the techniques to use and why the others are too stupid to know what they are talking about. Shoving matches break out, but stop after a minute and the combatants hug until they feel better. With twin explosions, the sedans skid to a stop and flames spout from under the hood.
No longer behind the wall, the rebellion leaders stand in front of a broken crank-powered machinegun and are having their own debate. Valerio Siege constantly shrugs and makes faces that puff out his lips while Hurrica simply shouts at the top of her lungs. The middle-aged man is wearing dark green pants that are kept up by suspenders, his colorful shirt wrinkled around the collar and cuffs. Getting visibly anxious, he fiddles the three toolbelts that he is wearing, two of them crossing his torso like bandoliers and the other around his waist. Spotting the telltale signs of weakness, Hurrica becomes louder and jabs her partner in the chest with one of her nicely manicured nails. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, the young woman looks more like a wanderer than a rebel leader. A large backpack with wires and cables sticking out of every hole weighs her down enough that she can only walk, which allows Valerio to reach the jeep first. She practically roars to stop him from knocking on Lloyd’s window, forcing him to wait until she gets to Cassidy’s side.
“Your vehicle has been mentioned alongside reports of Johnathan Custer,” Valerio politely says, not waiting for the window to roll down. He leaps back when Lloyd’s grinning face juts out and stops only an inch from his face. “That wasn’t very funny. Now, we’re the Ghost Rebels and it’s our job to stop Johnathan Custer from destroying this country. Yes, I know it seems like the place is already in ruins, but we disagree. Something is growing here and we need to let it happen naturally. Hurrica and I are the Messiahs who will-”
“Nope!” Lloyd shouts as he climbs out of the jeep. Ignoring the guns aimed at him, the madman stretches his arms and touches his toes. “We have officially abused the word and concept of messiahs. First, there was the old guy in the desert who sent us on this crazy adventure. Then the dead woman who might alive in D.C., but we can’t tell if she was good or evil. I’m pretty sure some people are out there calling Custer a messiah and I’m not even sure if I mean the father or the daughter. Now, we have two shmucks using the term as if that makes any sense? Sorry, but you two are rebel leaders and nothing more.”
“Watch your mouth, mongrel!” Hurrica shouts with a crack of her knuckles. She knocks on the door to get Cassidy out, the mercenary coming out on Lloyd’s side instead. “Oh, that’s very funny and mature. You two idiots need to take this more seriously. We’re dangerous people and you’re in our territory. It’s obvious that you know Johnathan Custer. What’s your connection to him?”
Cassidy sighs and waits for the other woman to come around the jeep before answering in a droning voice. “He offered us a job. We said no. He tried to brainwash or kill us. That made us mad. An old man in Arizona gave us a map that will help stop him. It’s taking us to New York City where Custer has a secret weapon or we’ll get a weapon to stop him. Honestly, I don’t remember anymore. So, our connection to your enemy is that we want him dead. At the very least, we want him pummeled for trying to kill us.”
“We also like to work alone,” Lloyd adds while reaching for the door handle. He scowls when Hurrica grabs his wrist, the woman squeezing in an attempt to prove her strength. “You may want to let go, lady. I’m not saying you would lose your hand, but I do hope your nail polish tastes good. We’ve had enough delays in our quest and this one seems more ridiculous than most of the others. Since we’re supposed to be on the same side, my friend and I would appreciate you getting out of our way.”
Her face red and her fists clenched, Hurrica whistles for the rebels to raise their weapons and prepare to fire. With a clap over his head, Valerio gets the men and women to stand down, but they are immediately put back on alert by their other leader. The orders continue going back and forth until half of the soldiers are ready to fire and the rest have sat down to eat their bagged lunches. Another shoving match goes on between Hurrica and Valerio, but they stop the instant Lloyd tries to get into the jeep. The rebel leaders are about to yell at the serial killer, but freeze when Cassidy puts the barrels of her handguns into their mouths.
“Everybody is going to listen to me!” the mercenary shouts, rubbing her thumbs on her weapons’ hammers. Not trusting the twitchy rebels, she turns and forces her hostages to stand between her and most of the people with their guns drawn. “If you want to topple Johnathan and Elaine Custer then you need to let us go. We’ve destroyed many of their bases and killed most of their agents. I’m sure you’ve done more since you’re so well organized, but I’d like to think Lloyd and I have earned some respect. Now, are we going to be civil with each other or are you going to be added to our victim list?”
Valerio gently pushes Cassidy’s hand away, the man smiling nervously. “To be honest, we haven’t really done much since we were founded. Our people raided a convoy two months ago, but it might have been traders heading for Long Island. There was a guy that supported Johnathan Custer and we drove him away before he could do anything. Not that he was dangerous or threatening, but he was just so negative and opinionated. Don’t think we’re useless though. The Phantom Rebellion has made sure Delaware stays free. Hurrica and I even went to New Jersey and rescued a town that may have been in trouble. We didn’t stay long enough to find out because of the explosion. Still, do you think you could check out our operation in Dover and give us some advice?”
“Like there’s anything they could say that we don’t already know,” Hurrica mutters, kicking a rock at one of the broken sedans. She pulls out her binoculars to check out some distance vehicles, which turn out to be more rebels. “It’s getting close to dinner time and I don’t like these two wandering in our territory. The girl has a nasty attitude and the guy seems too shifty to be trusted. Best to keep them nearby until we’re sure they don’t have to be killed. Give them their brownies and we’ll be on our way.”
“I didn’t realize the sign at the border was serious,” Lloyd whispers, accepting the plastic-wrapped snack. He cautiously sniffs at the food and a sweet aroma makes his stomach rumble loud enough to be heard. “I’m going to eat this later. We seem to have a habit of falling asleep or getting knocked out at the end of events. It’s making me think the two of us got some brain damage on this adventure. What do you think, kid?”
“You should probably drive,” Cassidy replies, half of her brownie already devoured. She smiles while eating a few crumbs on her hand, the act earning her wide-eyed stares from the rebels. “What are you looking at? I didn’t have lunch and these are tasty. Think I could get another since I didn’t kill you when I had the chance? Thanks.”