By Alex Fauth and Michael Surbrook

The Zone, David Lam thought, was the most surreal place he'd ever seen. Well... not quite. Some of the VR sims they'd made back at the shop had been pretty strange, but unlike those artificial worlds, the Zone was real. Very real.

Once he'd woken up and ensured his own mobility, David had left the Post Office plaza and had headed north a block. He'd hoped to pick up a major east-west street and take it back to the entrance gates. He wasn't sure what he was going to do when he got to the gate, what with his SIN card damaged and all, but he'd cross that bridge (figuratively and literally) when he got to it.

Currently he was standing at a four-way intersection. To his right was large structure that had once been a Honda auto dealership. The logo was still on the main building, and behind it rose a multistory parking garage—one of the few, if only, buildings in the area to not look like a total ruin. To his left was a three story building of unknown ancestry. Virtually all its windows were gone, leaving gaping holes that revealed dark recesses. Another small plaza sat in front of this building, containing a fountain filled with stagnant water and a few antiquated benches. Across the street were office buildings. They were tall structures with too many windows to break. Near the top floors, some ten to twelve stories up, the sun glinted and flashed off of the remaining glass.

David looked around. The intersection was empty, the only cars in sight a scattering of wrecks in what had once been a parking lot over to his right—and they weren't going anywhere ever again. Keeping to the street seemed to be the smart choice, as the sidewalks all looked to be a tangled mess of weeds, debris, and trees. Speaking of which...

The street to David's right ran to the west, which suited David fine, but it was also lined with tall, and highly overgrown, trees. So overgrown were these trees some had split in the summer storms, resulting in half the tree collapsing out into the street. Granted, they didn't block passage, but they did provide a great deal of cover—presuming, of course, there was something there to want cover.

Taking deep breath, David squared his shoulders and straightened his jacket. He wasn't go to get home if he kept jumping at shadows and wondering about the what-ifs. He needed to start walking and hope for the best.

A block later, David almost regretted his decision. A side street heading back south had been blocked off with chunks of rubble, the skeleton of a car, bits of fencing, and what looked like the metal stakes they used to use for street signs. In front of that was a series of posts, each decorated with a single human skull. Older bits of yellowed bone littered the ground at the base of the posts. David stared at the display for a long time. The street was quiet, and aside from the sound of the wind in the trees, he couldn't hear anyone, or anything moving.

With a shudder, David quickened his pace. Someone had built that barricade, and that same someone had put the skulls out there. And that was someone he certainly didn't want to meet.

A block later, David stopped again, puzzled at the newest Zone oddity. Near one end of the street the drainage grates had been pulled away, leaving a gaping hole in the road. In the center of this hole was a thick wooden post—probably an old section of telephone pole. Only a few feet projected above the street, the rest went down into the sewer itself. David carefully crept up to the edge of the hole and glanced down. The post was set into the bottom of the sewer drain, which gaped empty and black to either side. The floor of the drain was covered with a thin layer of water, weeds, and muck. The post itself had a large ring set into the top section, from which hung a bit of frayed rope.

David stared at the set up, unable or unwilling to try and comprehend what he was seeing. Finally, he stood and stepped back from the hole and the post and gave one last glance into its depths. A faint splashing echoed back up from the darkness. With a muffled cry, David jumped back from the edge and backed away quickly. Turning to the west, he didn't quite run down the street.

After what seemed like a dozen blocks or more, and perhaps a couple of miles, David found himself stopping again. He'd passed through more ruins than he'd ever thought possible, and after only a few blocks it all had looked the same. Tall structures of concrete and brick with empty yawning windows; tall weeds growing in thick, tangled, profusion; trees, some standing tall, some broken, some dead, some living. The burned-out debris of a collapsed building, the burned-out wreckage of an old bus blocking the road amid a tangle of similarly burned and wrecked cars. The crowd of mannequins standing naked in one window, waving at a perpetually empty street.

It seemed all of the Zone was just one long stretch of debris, weeds, and wreckage. There had been fighting here some twenty years ago, he knew that, as well as extensive rioting and looting. After they'd sealed off the Zone the violence had been especially bad, and his parents had told stories of how the smoke from the burning buildings had blacked the sky for days. Now the Zone was the dumping ground for criminals, vagrants, rogue replicants, and runaways no one else wanted. It wasn't a place fit for normal people. People like him.

The abrupt appearance of another scene of death snapped David out of his fugue. A large multi-wheeled APC sat to one side of the road, its drab gray paint blackened with heat. The vehicle's hatches were open, showing some of the blasted interior, while more debris lay scattered around the base of the vehicle. A large hole had been punched right through the vehicle's armor plate, while a second hole marred the turret ring. David guessed one of the shots had set of the APC's ammo, which had exploded with enough force to blow the vehicle's turret off, since it currently lay about a dozen feet away, upside down. The detonation had burned the vehicle with such an intense heat the tires had caught fire, leaving them little more than gray ash and bits of cable.

The vehicle itself wasn't marked, but David guessed this was due to it being a corporate asset. It looked too new, even burned and blasted, to be a relic of the war. Besides, he'd heard how the corps tended to use the Zone as their own private testing ground, and how corp-on-corp firefights were common. Hell, he'd help program enough of them for combat training sims.

A half-block beyond the APC was another wreck, and this one was a far more interesting casualty of war. David guessed it to be an armored assault suit, which was a typical unit for urban warfare. The front torso was shattered from multiple hits, and the unit lay on its back, the shoulder-mounted autocannon crookedly pointing to the sky. David wondered who had fought out here and who had won. The city block was empty, and the general state of decay made it hard to tell if missed shots had done anything. The buildings did look a little more battered and burned, but that might have been his imagination.

*squeak* *squeak* *squeak*

David hit the ground so fast his head spun and he had to grit his teeth against vomiting. When the world had settled down and stopped spinning, he risked a glance around one edge of the assault suit.

Across the wide street two men pulled a rickety four-wheeled cart, while a young woman walked behind, occasionally tossing a stick or a branch into the creaking wagon. David watched them with an intense fascination. They were the first sign of human habitation he'd seen in the Zone that day, and to his Neo York eyes they looked as strange as if they'd come from another planet. He stayed very still, not daring to do more than breathe as the trio slowly made their way down the street. After they'd left his field of view, David remained where he was, trying to decide on what he'd seen. Finally, after deciding anyone out gathering firewood couldn't be that dangerous, he stood and continued his journey.

After another few blocks the street he was on joined an even wider thoroughfare. To his left buildings had ended and a dense mass of growth had taken over. Trees and bushes grew in thick profusion, presenting an almost impenetrable tangle. As David walked he heard the whirring of insects and the calls of birds. He spotted a few, as well, the dark shapes winging their way across the sky and from tree to tree. It was a sharp contrast to Manhattan, where the only wildlife was the drab gray of a pigeon.

A quick glance across the street at an open meadow amid the thick woods made David stop dead. A deer stood at the treeline, calmly browsing on the tall grass. The animal hadn't seen him, and for a few long moments David found himself unable to move, entranced by the sight of an animal he'd never seen in the flesh before. "Wow..." he whispered, and started walking again.

Another step, he kicked a chunk of brick, the deer bolted and the moment was lost.

With a sigh David straightened his coat and went through his pockets—again—looking for something, anything, to eat. He was hungry, a little lightheaded, and desperately in need of a hot shower. But right now he'd settle for a drink of water.

The next few blocks seemed a lot like the last few, except for the forest to his left. At one point a road cut through the woods, and two low stone towers parked the entrance. The road was thick with leaves, branches, and debris and looked deserted. Still, David hurried past.

Abruptly, the ground fell away to either side of the street and and road became a bridge. David stopped again, and cautiously looked over the railing. Below glittered a stream, complete with sunken stones, trees, rushes, and the croaking of frogs. A path, of sorts, led down to the water, and David carefully picked his way down. The space under the bridge was of smooth concrete, shaped to make a channel for the stream. The stream itself ran in a mix of natural earth and concrete waterway. Time had fractured the waterway into broken chunks, while the stream itself had formed pools amid the debris. It was cool under the bridge, and the shade was a welcome relief from the harsh morning sun. The water was fairly clear and clean, but David still spent some time staring at it before finally summoning up his nerve and splashing his face. He chose the area where the water seemed to flow the fasted, hoping that meant it was the least stagnant.

After the initial shock of the cool water on his hot face wore off, David began to try and clean himself up in ernest. More water went on his face, and he even tried to wash out his hair and the crusted-over cut on his scalp. He also rinsed his hands, and wet down his neck. He then rinsed out his mouth, and even drank a little, finding the taste to be fairly tolerable.

Sitting back on a sandy stretch of concrete, David felt refreshed at the very least. Oh he had a long way to go before he felt fine, but at least he didn't feel so ill anymore. He was tempted to stay where he was and rest, but he needed to keep moving, who knew what might wander by to use the water hole. If he was lucky it would just be a deer. If not...

Scrabbling up the bank on the other side, David soon found himself at another intersection. The road he was following angled away to the northwest a bit, which was good enough for David, as the cross streets ran north-south. Ignoring the skeletal ruin of a building to his left—after the last few hours, such a sight had become commonplace—David continued walking.

It didn't take David long before he was surrounded by more close-set buildings. Rowhouses, stores, apartments, and offices were crowded close, with narrow, debris strewn and weed choked alleys between. Small parks broke up the pattern, each open plot a riot of green growth. In some places vines had begun to overgrow the building walls, while in others tall broad-leafed weedy plants nodded overhead. The wreckage stayed the same as well, with the occasional car or truck—usually a burned and rusted ruin—serving as a visual diversion.

After about another hour of walking, at which point David noted he was deep into development of single-family homes, he stopped at a wide intersection. Two divided highways met and what had once been a busy crossroads was now a deserted and lonely looking landscape of naked lamp posts, telephone poles, and street signs. There was even the obligatory wrecked truck. In the middle of the intersection, however, was a sight so strange that David, against his better judgment, had to walk out and look it over.

There, in the middle of a wide expanse of asphalt sat a towering stack of television sets. David wasn't sure many there really were, only that they were very old. Some had been shot through the tube, and were now nothing more than empty cabinets filled with dust and shattered glass. Others were still whole, their glass faces blindly reflection the world around them. On top of the televisions was set all manner of objects. There were candles—most burned or melted down to blobs of wax, flowers (dried and dead), empty bottles, a statue of Jesus and a few crosses, spent shell casings, the skull of a deer—complete with antlers, optical disks, broken chips, cables and wires. David walked slowly around the monument, wondering what possible purpose could it serve. Was it a marker? A warning? A sign? It was both peaceful and utterly creepy at the same time. With a start, David also realized that it was an indicator he was in an inhabited area, and he probably didn't want to meet anyone who lived around here. Not if he valued his life.

"And get the hell out!

And get the hell out!"

Sandra was running for her life. It was a situation that she was familiar. She'd had years of experience with running for her life. It had been with different people in different places, but running for her life was something that she had done lots of. Right now, she was running through the Zone. She'd run through it a lot in past. This time, it was a bunch of so-called mercs chasing her. They weren't the most professional or capable of people, but there was a good number of them and they were all armed. She was trying to think what exactly she'd done to annoy this particular bunch, but it eluded her for now.

Right now, she was running, and that was what was important. They were as fast as she was, but she was hoping that she could keep it up for longer. Fortunately for her, they were also terrible aims. She looked back, firing the last few shots from her pistol, hoping to hit someone or at the very least deter them. A bit of luck. One of them—who was wearing a tattered cop uniform, no less—fell to the ground, clutching his thigh. That only left the other half dozen or so after her. Great

Still, she allowed herself a brief grin before turning back. At the very least she could claim that she hurt a few. Looking back ahead of her, her attention was immediately focused on the man who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, and was now filling her vision.


David turned around to figure out what all the noise behind him was just as Sandra collided full-on into him, sending the pair sprawling across the road. Sandra quickly picked herself up, clutching her head. Not too bad this time. I must be getting used to full-tilt collisions. She glanced across at the man. He was Asian, young, slim with long hair, and a suit that looked far too nice for the Zone. He also looked rather confused.

What the hell have I rammed into now? She thought, before the shouting caught her ears. Tool. She glanced over at the man. He was slowly getting to his feet, looking rather nervously at her.

"Run!" she shouted at him. He looked even more confused. Stuff it. She grabbed his arm. "If you want to live, you'll run. Do you understand?"

He nodded.

"Good." She yanked his arm, and began running.

David ran. He wasn't sure why, exactly, but a quick glimpse at the small mob chasing the woman (and now him) convinced him he should do his best. He left the tower of television sets behind and allowed himself to be almost dragged along behind the woman who had run into him.

"Who..." he gasped and tried again. "Who are those... people!?" Normally he thought of himself as a capable runner, but this woman was putting his jogging skills to the test.

"Them?" Sandra looked at him. "Just some bunch of tools with lots of guns and very few brain cells! You get them all the time around here!" she shouted back. Before David could reply, she grabbed him, violently yanking him off in a new direction. "This way!" she shouted, charging towards a dangerously derelict-looking building sitting at the end of an equally derelict line of rowhouses.

"R-right!" David spared a glance behind him. They were now running roughly back the way he came, but considering the mob on his heels, he wasn't going to argue. He contemplated getting his pistol out, but then thought better of it. He knew how to use it, but at the moment he'd probably just drop it, and even if he did get it out, he doubted he'd hit much of anything.

Sandra jumped over a rusted length of lockers laying across the sidewalk and sort of bounced off of a short length of wall. She cleared a low flight of steps with ease and then ducked inside of a ruined doorway. David followed, stumbling slightly on the shattered flooring.

"Here. Down." Sandra commanded, pushing David back into the building's shadowy depths. He didn't have much time to respond, as she then fired back out the door, causing an overly curious pursuer to go crashing headlong into the brick wall edging one side of the building's entrance.

Crouching down, David finally pulled his slivergun free of its holster. He was in a dank and dark room, which based on all of the shelving, had once been a store. The few windows were covered with steel mesh, which age and neglect had made virtually opaque. The only entrance (at least from his vantage point) was the door they'd come in by.

"Hey!" David shouted from where he knelt behind a length of counter. "Who are you anyway?"

Sandra took careful aim out the open door and into the bright sunshine. The man who'd taken a header into the wall lay where he'd fallen, a dark red pool slowly spreading out from under his chest. Just beyond the wall was one of his buddies, a gangly man in ragged clothing and a shotgun. The man himself was hidden behind the wall, but the long barrel of his shotgun wasn't. It pointed straight up in the air, allowing Sandra to track his every move.

"I said," David called, "Who are you?"

"Who am I"? Sandra replied. She paused to pull the trigger in a tight three-round burst, just like they taught back in the NYPD Academy. Rags fell with wet sound, his shotgun tumbling free. With luck, she'd get a few bucks for that from some dealer.

"I'm Sandra." She said, glancing at the door before ducking back down. "I live here. The big question is, who the frelling hell are you and what are you doing here? You sure as heck don't look like you live here." Before David could reply, she put her finger to her lips.

There was a clattering noise on the other side of the room, as if someone had just knocked something metal over. Sandra switched over to her low-light, then cursed under her breath. There was still too much light coming from the door, making the low-light largely useless. She could vaguely make out someone moving around further down, but the light from the door made her low-light about as useful as her regular vision. She quietly slapped the side of her head. Nope, still the same. She really needed a new eye. She peered deeper into the room. Still nothing. Maybe he had gone. Maybe it was a cat or something. or maybe...

She spun around. There was a man wearing ragged dark clothing and badly-applied facepaint behind her, carrying a length of chain with some sort of hook on the end. She pulled her gun out, only to have it knocked out of her hand by the chain. The man swung it again, narrowly missing her head with the hook.

Great. There's always a would-be kung fu master, isn't there. She ducked a third swing, then slashed forward with her cyber razors. The man sidestepped and lashed at her with the chain again, wrapping it around her outstretched arm. Not bad, but stupid too... She pulled on the chain, using all of her enhanced strength to pull the man forward... and onto her other set of razors. He looked somewhat surprised, more so when she pulled them free and sent blood spurting all over the place. He fell forward, his right arm still hanging by the chain that he had gone and tied to his arm. Sandra unwound it, then let him slump.

She turned back to her newfound friend, who was siting where shed left him, now splattered with the thug's blood. "Sorry about that. Now who did you say you were?"

"Uhh..." David replied intelligently. "I... I didn't." He carefully kept his slivergun pointed down at the floor and not at the woman with blood dripping from her cyber razors. "Uhm... is that all of them?"

"No." Sandra replied. "But three of them dead and one wounded leaves only three left. They're probably not stupid enough to keep chasing me at this point."

She unwound the brown armband from around the shoulder of the dead man. "Basically they're a bunch of angry thugs who are more scared then angry. After they figured I took out half of them, what little brains they have will take over and they'll give up. "She grinned. "Or more of them come after us. She handed David the armband. "You better wipe yourself down. That stuff's going to get all sticky after a while."

David took the strip of cloth and glanced at the red splattered over his coat. "And I just got myself cleaned off to..." He gingerly dabbed at the armorcloth, trying not to think about what he was doing.

"Oh... my name's David. David Lam." He paused and then set his pistol down and extended his free hand. "Pleased to meet you... Sandra was it?"

"Sandra Blackmore." She shook his hand. "Sorry to drag you into this, but I figured that if I didn't, you probably would have been run down by them any ways." She took a look at him. There was something odd about him. He was attractive, if slightly girly-looking, being rather slim and long-haired. Then she figured it. He looked too neat, His clothes were new and fresh looking for the average Zone resident, even accounting for the blood. And your average Zone resident wouldn't have been walking around in the open, gawping at old TVs.

"You're not from around here, are you?"

"Uh... no." David wiped at his coat before continuing. "I'm from Neo York. I'm a programmer, actually. For a place called Simulation Technologies. My boss wanted me to check out some software he was buying and hauled me down here to look at it first hand. I didn't want to, but it was either me or Michael, and there was no way Michael was going to be allowed to go into the Zone. So we came down here and I slotted up the software and that's when someone decided to start shooting. I know Craig got hit... and I think Brad went down, and I started running. I ended up in what turned out to be an old post office and when I woke up this morning I was alone and still alive... so..." David paused. "Can you get me out of here?"

"Tool." Sandra muttered. Some Corp computer programmer had gotten himself stuck in the Zone. Some weedy guy who had all the survival instincts of a manic-depressive pyromaniac lemming in a fireworks factory. Still it could be worse. "It shouldn't be too hard to get you out of here. All you need is your ID and a good wad of handy cash."

David's face fell at that pronouncement. "Well... that'll be a problem, y'see." He reached into a jacket pocket and produced the shattered remains of his ID card. "It got hit sometime last night. It's pretty much unreadable now. And I don't have any cash. I usually don't carry any."

Sandra took a look at the ID card. It was well and truly gone now. Nobody would ever accept it again. Heck, it was only recognizable as an ID card because he'd said it was. "And all your other ID got taken out at the same time, right?" David nodded. "Tool." Sandra rubbed her forehead while casually kicking around a bit of rubble, trying to think how to put this. It was going to hurt. "If you have no ID and no cash, I can't get you out of here. You're trapped in the Zone."

"But..." David's face went white. "I can't be trapped here. I've got to get out. I mean... I mean... SimTech is probably a mess now. With Craig and Brad dead there will be no one to run the company. And what if this was all part of a hostile takeover? Michael's going need someone to look after her. She's not all that strong you know." He was babbling, but didn't know it.

Sandra desperately resisted the urge to say something along the lines of "It sucks to be you." He was in a mess and it wasn't is fault. He'd somehow wound up here and was now stuck without any hope of making it out. And he'd be dead meat on his own. Great. And yet he was too nice a guy to just walk away from. Damn it. I'm going to have to be a good person again, she thought. And you remember what happened last time you did that.

"Look, I can help a bit," Sandra said with a sigh. "If you don't have any ID, you can make it out if you bribe the officers on the bridge enough. I know... I know what they're like. Cash will answer most questions they might have."

"But I don't have any of that."

"Now." Sandra shrugged. "You never know until you try. Now hang on while I check out the goon squad here."

Kneeling down, Sandra took a look at Mr. Kung Fu. He had a length of chain wrapped around one wrist. It ended in a sharpened hook and looked like any number of similar chains used by street toughs the Zone over. Still... the chain looked new enough that someone might want it. She unwrapped the chain from the dead man's arm and set it aside.

"What are you doing?" David asked from over her shoulder.

Sandra shrugged. "Seeing if these idiots have anything I can use. There's not a lot of money here, so barter works best." She pointed at a surprisingly new looking nylon fanny pack the man had fastened around his waist. "Jackpot."

Unzipping the pack, Sandra first pulled out a short length of chain complete with clips on either end. It looked like the kind of chain one normally used to secure their wallets. As such it was far too useful to toss. Next came a pair of dice, totally useless for Sandra's needs and probably loaded to boot. She tossed them aside and then pulled out two shotgun shells. One disintegrated into powder whole the other looked solid enough. Sandra glanced out at the pair of corpses outside the doorway. "Bring me that one guy's shotgun, will you?"

"Uhm... sure." David made his way outside, blinking at the bright sunshine. Two men lay dead on the concrete out in front of the store, both surrounded by thick splatters of bright red blood. Near one man lay a double-barreled shotgun. David gingerly picked the weapon up and glanced around the street before going back inside. It was quiet now, with no sign of the mob who had been after him and Sandra.

Back inside he held the gun out. "Here."

"Thanks." Sandra cracked the weapon open and looked inside. There were already shells in each of the barrels and it didn't smell like it had been fired recently. Good. "Oh," Sandra looked up at David and dug something out of her pocket. "For you."

"Err... thanks." David looked at the crumpled wad Sandra dropped into his hand. It was a UNA ten dollar bill, wrapped around a two dollar coin.

Sandra gave him a quick smile. "Hey, it's a start. Now, let's go see if the rest of these idiots have anything useful."

The man who had been carrying the shotgun proved to have little beyond ragged clothing, a nasty smell, and a shoulder sack crammed with all sorts of useless odds and ends. Bits of string, bottlecaps, a spoon and fork, a can opener ("We'll keep that," Sandra commented), and a half-dozen more shotgun shells. These looked almost new, and unlike the shell she'd gotten from Captain Kung Fu, probably worked.

The third man had been armed with a revolver. It lay on the aged concrete amid splatters of blood and debris. The cylinder showed two rounds fired, which proved the damn thing worked at least. Sandra added it to the stash and then checked the man's pockets. A string of spark plugs on a long length of chain ("What would he need that for?" David asked. "To hit people with," Sandra replied.), a pack of greasy cards, a well-oiled multi-tool ("Things are looking up, David" Sandra said with a smile), a leather billfold ("Ohhh! Look, UNA dollars!" Sandra was going to eat well tonight.), and a plastic box of loose shells.

Standing over the small pile of odds and ends she'd scavanged off of the corpses, Sandra looked over at David. "Want any of it?"

"What?" David was shocked. "I'm not taking stuff off of some dead guy!"

"You took his money quick enough." Sandra kicked the kung fu master's corpse.


"Look, David, it's like this: you're not in Neo York. This is the Zone. Either you learn to live by the rules here, or you'll end up like these guys." She kicked kung fu again. "Or worse."

"Worse?" David thought back to the post he'd seen sunk into the open sewer. "What do you mean worse?"

"Just what I said." Sandra started to pile everything she'd found into the shoulder sack. "Come on, let's get out of here. Dead guys out in plain view tend to attract scavengers."

"Do you always do this?" David asked her as they left. "Picking over dead people, I mean."

"Not normally," Sandra replied. "Usually I'm running away and don't get the chance. By the time the shooting's stopped, I'm usually long gone." Well, apart from one time. The one time she'd left a whole pile of weapons behind because she was too busy running because—no, don't go there. This guy is a nice guy. He's a good guy. Just don't think about that one time.

"I guess you don't have anywhere to go around here." Sandra added. "You probably didn't plan on spending more than the one night here." Mentally she added; Like I really planned what I was going to do.

"No..." David said slowly. "No I don't." He glanced around the street, feeling slightly intimidated by the endless lines of rowhouses and the gaping holes their former windows presented.

"I guess we can find you somewhere then." Sandra replied. Finding a place in the Zone wasn't a problem. Finding a place in the Zone where you could be reasonably confident of waking up the next morning with all your possessions and all your limbs was. Of course, that required a bit of money that the two of them didn't have and... Gah. Don't think about it now. Wing it. You usually do. "Shouldn't be too much of a bother."


"Uh, yeah?" She got the feeling this would happen a lot.

"Do you have any idea how much it would take to bribe the bridge guards to let me back in?"

"Hmm..." She took a look at him. "Well, unless you have anything that they really want or are strangely valuable and in demand, it'd probably be about five thousand. But if there's a female officer there, or a male one of certain inclinations, you might be able to get by with less." She winked in an almost sly way. "Most cops are corrupt tools who will let anything past if you give 'em what they want. A lot of women can get in on their knees, so to speak."

Of course, knowing my luck if I tried to smuggle him back over, It'd be Alan and Karen there. Then Alan would sleaze onto me and Karen would shout at me for trying to bring someone out of the Zone back with me and... Gah.

All those other times it'd been so much easier. She'd been with Drake, and his money—and limo—had gotten them through. Or she'd been with Korey, and Ray had simply flown or teleported them over. But now... Why did this always seem to happen?

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