As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence. It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam. This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started. Each one is 99 cents!
The ramp skitters on the ground as the train continues to barrel towards Portland and the first of the tanks comes around a distant hill. With the dome removed and Katie ready with the mine gun, Cassidy drives the jeep out of the garage car at full speed. She swerves and spins while calmly regaining control of the vehicle, which kicks up enough dust to be seen by the approaching enemies. A shell hits close enough to send a spray of dirt into the air and through the hole in the roof. Driving away from the train, the mercenary honks the horn and turns on the radio to play a song that Katie swears Laurencia despises. With the megaphone duct taped to one of the speakers, the music is loud enough to carry over the entire area. When the fleet continues towards the Holly Sage Express, Cassidy turns off the music and waves for her companion to go through with a plan that she doubts will work. Putting down her weapon, the warlord pops up and waves her hat around to make sure her rival knows it is really her. To the mercenary’s surprise, all of the tank turrets turn in their direction and she guns the engine in order to escape the incoming shells.
“So, I’ve been thinking about this whole trip and the problems we’ve had,” Katie says while she calmly takes a seat. Choosing one of the mines, she loads it into the bulky weapon with a loud click. “Keep in mind that I’m not talking about everything, but I think Tyler set up a lot of the obstacles himself. After all, he had to have known about Cola’s background and that secondary track. Laurencia keeps finding us and is obviously using shortcuts, which she would only know with help from someone who knows the route and surrounding terrain. Those butchers you and Luca dealt with, the cannibals knowing where Lloyd was on the train, the Lone Horseman, and those kidnappers in Grand Aquae are suspicious too. I also looked into that bounty and nobody knows who set it up. Just a person with an interest in the train failing, which seems too vague for something that huge. What do you think?”
“I think I’m going to hate this next part,” Cassidy replies, pausing to wipe the sweat from her brow. She makes a sharp turn and drives in a serpentine pattern towards the tanks, which begin firing their machineguns. “Be careful going up there because there’s a lot of bullets flying towards us. Good thing I took all of my explosives and valuables out of here. Last thing we need is a ricochet blowing us all up. Actually, you should slide the mines beneath the seat because I put some armor plating on the underside. I assume you’re going to explain why Tyler did this before you play whack-a-mole with Laurencia. Too bad you’re not the one with the hammer in this scenario.”
Katie waits for them to pass the first tank and arcs her shot to get the mine on the hatch. “I think I’ll be okay, but thanks for the concern. Now, I believe Tyler did it to cover his real intentions. That or he had a bad feeling about us being passengers, so all of the threats were designed to eliminate us. Either way, nobody would think he’s about to blow up his own train if he’s been fighting so hard to survive a deadly gauntlet. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cola was going to double-cross the gangs and help Tyler continue heading for Portland. Not sure why that changed unless he decided that he preferred to live. It didn’t strike you as odd that so many things went wrong? I mean, we ran into one problem in every state.”
“Yeah, that kind of shit happens to me and Lloyd a lot.”
“So, you two never thought twice about the dangers.”
“I was aware that things smelled fishy, but it’s par for the course with us.”
“Huh, I should probably get out more then.”
One of the smaller tanks swerves into their path and forces Cassidy to throw the jeep into reverse. Using small burst engines on its sides, the armored vehicle is able to maneuver almost as easily as its targets. Spotting an opening, the mercenary goes as fast as she can and spins while slipping out of the fleet. She hears the tank following, the shrieking of metal scraping against metal leading to a flood of curses. Katie hops up to fire two mines at the enemies who have been stopped by the minor collision, but is driven back down by a spray of machinegun fire. The warlord lands on the seat and falls to the floor when the jeep makes a sudden turn. Every time the tank follows them, Cassidy does it again and eventually leads their persistent enemy in an ever-widening circle. Seeing a modest rise in the ground, the mercenary has the jeep pull far ahead and prays the enemy driver uses their boost system. As she had hoped, the tank roars ahead at full speed and hits the rise with only one of its treads. Grabbing her pistol, Cassidy quickly leans out her window to shoot all of the burst engines on one side, which causes the armored vehicle to flip onto its side.
“I really didn’t know how that would turn out,” she admits as Katie fires a mine. She hurries to catch up to the other tanks, which are aiming their guns towards them. “Oh, for the love of sanity and logic! Turn the entire thing around, morons! It’s hard enough to hit a moving target, but now you’re going to try while driving in the opposite direction you’re shooting at? This is plain embarrassing.”
“Only if you don’t realize it’s a trap,” Laurencia says over a megaphone. The crime boss comes flying over a hill on an armored motorcycle, her body protected by a metal suit. “I had this thing specially made for this fight. Uncomfortable, hot, and it pinches at every joint, but it’s worth it to get up close and personal. What do you think, whore?”
“I think that megaphone helmet makes you look like a duck,” Cassidy replies while gradually veering away from the woman. She catches Katie chuckling in the back and it takes her a minute to make the connection. “That was not me admitting to being a whore. Somebody had to answer her and you’re too busy with the pretty gun. Think you can take the wheel for a minute, so I can handle something?”
“Sure, but we don’t have much time to play around,” the warlord mentions before switching places. The jeep swerves and slows down while she tries to remember the basics of driving, the old lessons swiftly coming back. “I can keep us going and avoid most of the shells, but I can’t make any promises. Whatever you’re going to do, I recommend you do it-” Katie stops talking when Cassidy throws open the back door to knock Laurencia off her motorcycle. “Seems we should finish up here then. What would you have done if she came along the side?”
The mercenary takes the wheel again and smiles when she hears her companion fire a mine at the crime boss. “I have a tire iron in the back that I could have whacked her in the head with a few times. The fleet seems to be slowing down and falling out of what I guess was their formation. Good news is that they’re not going to shoot in the direction of their fearless and brainless leader. Crap, she’s already getting up. At least her bill is bashed in, so we don’t have to listen to her. Nice job putting the mine on her back.”
“You do realize we can’t hit the detonator if she’s too close, right?” Katie asks as she fires another explosive. She struggles to reload and shoot again, the jeep’s speed making the process more difficult. “As great as this weapon is, it isn’t very practical. Bart should have put a container on the stock to hold more than one mine. I’m getting my exercise dropping down, grabbing one, reloading, and jumping back up. At least the cord isn’t too hard to pull back. I have twenty-five mines left. Let’s make it quick.”
Cassidy flexes her fingers before gripping the wheel and going further into the fleet, the rumbling vehicles drowning out the sound of the pursuing motorcycle. She focuses on dodging the swinging cannons and occasional gunfire, which are haphazard due to Laurencia being too close to the jeep. Those in the front go back to shooting at the Holly Sage Express, but the train has pulled too far ahead for them to hit anything more than the tracks. The nimbler vehicle swerves and slips among the larger vehicles in the hope of losing the crime boss, but the motorcycle proves to be harder to shake than Cassidy expected. Focused on their pursuer, the mercenary nearly drives into the treads of a tank and pulls away with only a few scuffmarks on the door. She hears the click of a machinegun being loaded an instant before she goes faster, the incoming spray hitting the ground a few inches behind the rear tires. The mercenary curses at the sight of Laurencia driving around the gunfire without fear and taking two wild shots at the back window.
Throughout the chase, Katie continues putting mines on the tanks whenever she sees a chance to pop out of the roof. It is a frustrating task since Laurencia repeatedly comes close enough to shoot, which forces the warlord back into the jeep. Ignoring Cassidy’s complaints, she opens the window enough to fire at the enemy. It helps her hit two more tanks before a machinegun is aimed directly into the vehicle. Leaping for the other door, Katie puts down the other window an instant before the weapon unloads. Most of the bullets pass harmlessly through the jeep while some ricochet and come dangerously close to hitting the two women. When the attack is over, the warlord closes the windows and returns to firing from the roof. It takes a few minutes for her to tag every tank, but there are still nine mines in the box. Remembering Bart’s warning, Katie casually puts an extra explosive on as many enemies as she can until she has only one left. Waiting for Laurencia to come into view, the warlord opens the back and waves as the crime boss cautiously backs away from the expected attack. The motion leaves the armored woman open to the final mine getting fired at her head and hitting with enough force to knock her clear off the motorcycle.
“Everything is set, so get us out of range and use the detonator,” Katie says as she straps herself into the passenger seat. She notices that they are still moving with the tanks and looks at her frowning companion. “I’m really sorry about opening the windows and letting the bullets inside. You’re already getting a harpoon gun for the jeep. Do you also want to use my guest house for a week? There are only so many weapons I can give you before it gets bloody ridiculous.”
“You cover all repairs for my baby and we’ll talk about more later,” Cassidy replies, her mood only slightly improving. She hits the brakes and waits for the tanks to go by before driving by the unconscious crime boss. “I’m going to take us to the top of the hill and then we can get out to watch. No sense in rushing back to the train since there’s nobody onboard to let us in. Actually, there’s a list of candies that I haven’t had since before the collapse. Work on that and we’ll be even.”
“You and Lloyd always make the most interesting requests.”
Reaching the top of the hill, Cassidy puts on the emergency brake and gleefully hops out of the jeep. She anxiously waits for Katie to join her on the hood, the warlord coming out of the vehicle with two beers. Using the key to activate the detonator, the mercenary waits until the lights finish blinking and she hears a small click. Stretching her arm as if aiming at the fleet, Cassidy presses the button and flinches in preparation of a deafening blast. The tanks are stopped by small bursts of flame that destroy treads and drive turrets into the main body. The smaller vehicles that had mines on the side are flipped over, but the destruction is not enough to kill those inside. It is another explosion far away from the others that draws their attention to the east and they look up in time to see debris sailing towards them. Both women leap off the jeep, which is struck by a smoking helmet that remains embedded in the hood. Cassidy is left staring at the damage and barely notices when Katie softly clinks their beer bottles together in celebration.