By Kurt Markuson

Rev sat patiently at his table in Louie's Bar & Grill, waiting for his contact to show up. He watched the door intently over the rims of his glasses. This would be his first job in a while, and he needed the cash. He couldn't afford a potential employer to chicken out at the last minute. Eventually the door opened, and a raven-haired Puma walked in. She was dressed rather conservatively for a Puma, wearing a dark gray pantsuit. Still, the suit was closely tailored, and showed off her assets rather nicely. Corporate muscle, Rev decided, as she dropped a Desert Eagle on the bar and made her way to his table.

"You Rev?" she asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

"That depends," Rev replied, "Are you here to tell me more about that pickup job I accepted?"

The Puma nodded, and sat down across from him. "My name is Mil, and I'm here on behalf of my... employer," she said, mouth twisting slightly at that last part, "His daughter Sara has been kidnapped, and he wants you to get her back."

Rev raised his eyebrows. "That's a little bit more than just a pickup job," he said, "Why didn't your boss tell me I'd have to go after a person?"

Mil shrugged. "I'm not privy to everything he does, and I don't ask for reasons. Do you want the job, or do you want to ask questions?"

Rev waved his hands in a placating manner, "OK, OK, I want the job, but there's a couple of things I need to know first. Like, do you know where she's being held? I can't bring her back if I don't know where she is."

Mil nodded. "I've been informed that the gang who took her has a warehouse down by the old waterfront. In all likelihood, that's where they're holding her. And to forestall your next question, this is what she looks like." Mil took a photograph out of her pocket and handed it to Rev.

She was young, Rev thought, not much more than sixteen or seventeen. She had long, curly blonde hair and blue eyes. She was smiling in the picture. Looked like a typical Daddy's Little Girl. "All right," said Rev, "There's just one more thing then. The small matter of payment..."

Mil smirked. She obviously knew this was coming. "Once you've got her and managed to lose anyone who might be following you, bring her to the gate. I'll take her back to Neo York, and give you the agreed payment: Five thousand."

Rev shook his head. "Five thousand is my fee for pickup and delivery. Liberating a girl from kidnappers, shaking any tails, then driving all the way to the gate brings this job to a grand total of fifteen thousand."

Mil's ears twitched. "That's highway robbery. You can't possibly justify commanding a payment that high."

Rev smirked. "Consider it your boss's penalty for not telling me everything about this job up front. There's also hazard pay to consider; as I'm sure there'll be people shooting at me. Not to mention I'll need to cover expenses for the fuel I'd need to make this trip..."

Mil scowled at him. "I could just offer this job to someone else who'd be willing to take five thousand."

"You could do that," Rev agreed, "But that would take time, and we're not sure how much of that little Sara has, are we? Besides, you want a fast driver, right? Well, there aren't many in the Zone who can top me, and they'd ask for even more than I am."

Mil's scowl faded, and she looked somewhat amused. "I think you overstate your abilities, but I'll tell you what. I'll come up to eight thousand, but only because I think you may be almost as good as you say you are."

Rev mulled that over for a while. Eight thousand was a tidy sum, as long as he didn't wreck his car too badly or get seriously injured. He briefly considered asking for ten, but Mil didn't seem like the type to haggle for very long, and he somehow doubted he'd be able to get away with charging double the original price, now matter how good he was.

"All right, you've got yourself a deal," he said, "But only because I like you." He winked at the Puma, who looked indignant as he got up, collected his 9mm and Ingram at the bar, and headed out into the street. He got into his car, a sleek black compact in better shape than most Zone cars, and started it up. As he did so, he took a cord out of the glove box, and plugged one end into the car's dash and the other end into the rigger jack behind his right ear. Eight thousand, he thought, driving towards the docks, I hope this job's worth it.

Rev parked his car a short distance away from the warehouse, and crept up close enough to take a look, making sure to keep in the shadows. They seemed pretty confident that nobody would come after them; there weren't any guards posted that Rev could see. The cobbled together motorcycles that were commonly used by the Zone's go-gangs surrounded the doors. There were about twenty bikes, all told, meaning there'd be at least that many gangers inside. Way too many for Rev to take on his own, he thought, unless he created a diversion.

Noticing how the bikes were all clustered around the doors, Rev got an idea. He smiled as he drew his pistol from under his gray armored longcoat, and took careful aim at one of the bikes' fuel tanks. "Let's make it hot."

Rev fired, and the exploding bike certainly got the attention of the people in the warehouse. Go-gangers rushed out of the building, trying desperately to keep the flames of the explosion from reaching the other bikes. Rev, meanwhile, was already heading for one of the side doors. Bursting through it, he quickly scanned the warehouse, looking for Sara. He found her, hanging back from the gangers rushing to put out the fire. She looked pretty much like she did in her picture, save for the purple streak dyed into her hair. She was also wearing one of those spandex-and-leather outfits that cits usually wore when they were out slumming in the Zone.

Deciding he could explain later, when things were safe, Rev promptly grabbed Sara around the waist, clamped his other hand over her mouth to keep her from attracting attention, and started dragging her out of the warehouse. Unfortunately, he was spotted by one of the gang members, who promptly raised an alarm.

Cursing under his breath, Rev reached for his pistol, which meant taking his hand off of Sara's mouth. This, in turn, meant Sara started screaming.

"Will you shut the hell up?" Rev shouted, shooting at the gangers who were coming after him, "I'm trying to help you!"

Sara didn't seem to be paying attention to him, as she just kept screaming. Finally he managed to drag her to his car and shove her inside. He got in after her and started the car up, running over the last few gangers still chasing him on foot. He headed for the gate, knowing he only had a few moments before the rest of the gang started after him on their motorcycles.

Sure enough, Rev heard the sound of engines roaring to life behind him. Muttering to himself, he gunned his own engine, and thumbed the safety off his Ingram. Sara, meanwhile, had recovered her composure enough to start asking questions.

"What the fuck are you doing? Why'd you bust in and grab me like that? Who the hell are you anyway?" she demanded.

"Let me answer your last question first," Rev said, leaning out the window to fire a quick burst at the gangers chasing him, "The name's Rev. As for your other questions, your pop hired me to rescue you from your kidnappers."

Sara looked confused. "I wasn't kidnapped, I ran away! The guys in that gang said they'd take me in, so I went with them."

Rev let this sink in for a few seconds, and cursed to himself. Dammit Mil, when I say I want details, I want ALL the friggin' details! He sighed. "Ran away or kidnapped, it doesn't really make much difference either way. I get paid for bringin' you back, and that's exactly what I'm gonna do. So we can do this the easy way, and you keep quiet and sit tight during the ride home, or we do it the hard way, and I butt-stroke you with my gun and hand you over to Mil unconscious. Your choice."

Sara's eyes widened. "Mil was in on this?" she asked, sounding a bit hurt, "I thought she was my friend..."

"Trust me girl, if Mil wanted you back, she IS your friend," Rev said, sliding the car through a hairpin turn.

"What do you know?" Sara asked heatedly, "I was always telling Mil how much I hated being under Dad's thumb all the time, not being able to do what I wanted or make friends with anyone he didn't approve of. So I finally get my freedom and she wants you to drag me back there? Oh yeah, she's a real good friend."

Rev chuckled as he turned another corner, narrowly avoiding a rather large pothole. "I don't care how bad you think it is at home girl, it's a lot worse here in the Zone. That's why Mil wants you back."

Sara seemed about to reply, when gunfire suddenly erupted behind them, and the car's rear windshield shattered. She screamed, and Rev shoved her down behind the seat. "Stay down," he ordered. He fired another burst from his Ingram, but he was too busy driving to take much time to aim. He thought he heard a couple of crashes, but he couldn't be sure over the roar of the engines. The gangers opened fire again, and he felt a painful burning sensation along his shoulder.

"Shit," Rev muttered to himself, taking another hard turn. He'd have to lose these guys, and quickly. He had one chance to shake these guys, but it was risky. Still, it was for a lot of money, and his only alternative was to get killed by some go-gangers. He turned onto a side street and raced toward his destination.

"Where are we going?" Sara asked, still hiding behind the seat.

"Ultimately, we're going to the gate," Rev replied, "But for now, we're taking a route to shake off our pursuers. In fact, we're almost there."

Sara peeked over the dashboard to see where they were going, and her eyes widened in panic. "But there's nothing there! It's just a bridge that collapsed!"

Rev grinned. "Actually, that's not a bridge, it's an overpass."


"So, that means there's a road under it, instead of a river. True, it's still a good thirty feet or so to the bottom, but I've been able to do this a couple times before," Rev replied.

"Do WHAT before!?" Sara almost shrieked.

Rev's grin never left his face. "Something really cool," he said, "Hang on, this could get bumpy."

That said, Rev turned the steering wheel hard to the right, causing the car to slide sideways... right off the overpass. Sara screamed as the car fell for a few agonizing seconds before landing right side up on the road below.

"How... how did you do that?" Sara asked breathlessly.

"Practice," Rev replied, gunning the engine, "We're in the clear now. Those guys aren't gonna trying copying THAT stunt on a motorbike, not unless they're really stupid." He started driving for the gate. "Come on, let's get out of here."

They were driving through Bartertown when Rev pulled into an alley and stopped the car. Sara looked at him in puzzlement.

"Why are we stopping?" she asked.

"First and foremost because that hit I took earlier is starting to bug me," Rev replied, shrugging out of his coat, "There's a first aid kit in the glove box. Pass it over."

Sara nodded and did as she was told. Her eyes widened as Rev turned up the sleeve of his black t-shirt to reveal the angry red wound the gunshot had caused. Rev noticed her expression, and smirked.

"Lesson the first of living in the Zone, kid," he said, wrapping a bandage around the injury, "you're gonna get hurt, sooner or later. This isn't half as bad as some other hits I've taken over the years."

Sara watched as Rev tied the bandage off. "How long have you been living here?" she asked.

"Ever since I was born," Rev replied. He looked at her. "What, you think I chose to live here? Lesson the second girl; nobody WANTS to live in the Zone. Except for little girls who wanna run away from home that is. Society puts us here, sweeping us under the proverbial rug. Then they try to forget about us, in the hopes that if they ignore us, maybe we'll go away."

Sara looked at him. "Yeah, but aren't you guys free to do what you want? The people who put you here leave you alone, right?"

Rev laughed bitterly. "Oh yeah. I'm free to ice any moron I want and take what I please from his corpse, but everybody else is free to do exactly the same thing to me. Lesson the third; there is no freedom in the Zone. We're too busy trying to survive, and survival has its own demands regarding things we can and can't do. I survive because I take jobs from people. My... skills are in demand here in the Zone. I'm actually luckier than most, and I subsist mainly on nutrient bars and rainwater." He started the car up again, and began heading towards the gate again.

Sara looked at him. "What about the people who aren't lucky?" she asked.

Rev pointed out the window. "They end up like that guy." Sara looked at the man Rev pointed out as they drove past, clad in little more than rags, rail thin, lying on the sidewalk. It took her a few moments to notice the pool of blood spreading underneath him, and the several knife wounds in his back. Sara gasped, and quickly looked away from the dead body, covering her mouth.

Rev drove on, never taking his eyes off the road. "Here endeth the lesson."

Mil was waiting for them when they arrived at the gate. Rev smiled and made a mock bow as he approached with Sara. "One prodigal daughter, as promised," he said, grinning.

Mil nodded, and handed him a briefcase. "You do good work," she said, "I might recommend you to my employer for future work." Rev thought he detected a hint of a smile on the black-haired Puma's lips.

Rev turned to go, when he heard Sara say, "Hey Rev... I just wanted to thank you for getting me, and... giving me something to think about."

Rev smirked. "No extra charge for the lesson, kid." He was about to leave, when Sara called out again.

"I just want to know one thing, Rev," she said, "What's your real name? I know it can't be Rev, and I'd rather know your real name than just think of you as one more freak from the Zone..."

Rev chuckled as he made his way to his car. "You're right. Rev's a name I gave myself." He didn't turn around. As he was getting into his car, he said, "It's John. John Sizemore."

With that, he started the car, and drove back into the Zone.

Return to Kazei 5 PBEM Stories