To Gain An Ally

Posted: July 14, 2008 in Brawl, Dark, Fiction, Sci-Fi

Chapter 31

Running along the road, I cast my eyes from one side of the street to the other. There are shards of glass from broken windows, splintered remnants of doors and walls, chunks of metal lying in the street. I slow and hop over a fallen streetlight resting on the ground. I can’t imagine how a riot could’ve started and destroyed this much in such little time.
Not that the craftsmanship of the buildings is that great. These identical houses must’ve really looked bad even without the riot. Suddenly it’s not so hard to imagine a riot breaking out in such squalid conditions. Looks like the Saints have really divided their classes, with the individually designed, richly diverse High Residential sharply contrasted to this cloned, slummy area.
I still haven’t seen anyone, least of all Diana or Adam.
I continue on, slowing down as I take in the devastation that blights Low Residential. I stop.
I can feel someone’s eyes on me. I whirl around, but no one’s there. Something red gleams into my eye.
A laser point.
I turn my head to where it came from as a steel bolt comes rocketing into my skull and out the back of my head.
I’ll never get used to that.
“Holy shit!”
I see a house, a balcony that remains intact, untouched by fire. Now I can see a figure standing there, holding a long sniper rifle with a scope by their side.
The person carefully leans the rifle against the balcony, eases up over it and almost glides down to the ground into a quick roll. It’s a woman.
She approaches me with speed as well as a cautious air. I can see a bolt pistol held by her side, ready to be used at the nearest hint of danger.
Her hair looks like a combination of dreadlocks and a sloppy mohawk. The golden brown dreads flop onto the other side of her close-shaven head, and I can feel a steely professionalism emanating from her dark eyes.
She wears a dark, sleeveless jacket and a ripped shirt underneath it. Her jeans are splattered with faded paint; a champagne-gold scarf is secured around her waist. The sneakers on her feet have no tongues.
“You Lucas?”
“How do you-”
She tosses her head back, and the dreads rustle on the side of her head. “Sol told high-ranking Saints about you. Not many, but enough. Oh, sorry for shooting you, but I’m just being cautious.”
“It was unexpected, to say the least.”
“No shit.” She extends a hand. “Name’s Lee Diem. I need you to come with me.”
“Okay. I came here with Sasha, but she went left on the fork back there. I don’t know where she is now.”
Up close, I can see two studs embedded in the bridge of her nose. The silver piercing flashes from the surrounding flames. “I’m meeting Kylie Hagen deeper into the riot zone.”
“Kylie?” I hadn’t seen her since we had entered the city. Where had the red-eyed Saint disappeared to?
“She was here when the riot started, and we think she’s lost her communicator, because we can’t contact or track her. I just started my search.”
“All right then, let’s go.”
“Do you need a weapon?”
“Why bother with that? I’ve got no training and no need to really protect myself.”
“True. Come on.”
Lee turns back and heads towards the balcony. Her head twists back to me. “I’m going to check out what I can from the top of a building. I’ll be back.” She begins to scale the dilapidated walls of the nearby structure and hops up to the balcony again. The sniper rifle is slung across her back and secured with a thin strap. As I watch, I realize that I should be following her.
I take firm handfuls of wall and begin to haul myself to the top. I move rapidly, my brain calculating, seeking out and finding handholds as I ascend to the roof. I pull myself up and over the lip, barely winded by the climb.
Lee’s already standing there, eyes glued to a heavy-looking pair of binoculars as she glasses what we can see. Gazing around, I can see much of the city. Well, Low Residential at least. The smoke is spreading, and it envelopes much of the surrounding area, obscuring my vision.
“Fuck!” Lee drops the binoculars and crosses her arms over her chest. “There’s too much smoke to see anyone.”
“Wait…” I pick the binoculars up from the ground and scan the horizon to the west. “There.”
“What?”
“Focus on that spot, and wait.”
A full minute of our silent staring later, I see it. A series of quick puffs and a tongue of flame erupt from between two rows of Low Residential slums.
“That’s Wearing Street. I think the explosions are from the rioters.”
I turn to her and hand the binoculars back. “What now?”
“Our priority is finding our three missing Saints, but until we see signs of other activity we’ll head to Wearing Street. That’s where the rioters seem to be, so Kylie and the others might be there.”
“Okay. Let’s go.”
Lee takes a deep breath. She takes a step and disappears into the swirling void of smoke below.
Hopefully she’ll land well.
I don’t need to worry about such a thing.
I dive, hands extended forward like a hawk that’s spotted a rodent.

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