by Christopher R. "Pulse" Fenner
Web Posted by the Seattle Washington Autoduel Team, September 24, 2003
From: Fenner, Christopher R.
To: SWAT: Michael P. Owen
CC: Mad Max Movies FAQ: Peter Barton
Subject: New Fiction
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 08:57:54 -0500
Michael and Peter,
The Underside is Mad Max fiction based on the stories, chronologies and chronicles on Crack in the Net and on SWAT HQ.
I had written this story a few weeks ago. have sense sent it to Uncle Entity at Crack in the Net. He had stated on the FAQ discussion board that he wanted to update his fan fiction section of his site, and requested any new material that we fans might have.
Pardon my boldness but I just thought I would send it to you for
a read also. If you like it please feel free to add it to your sites.
not, oh well, I enjoyed writing it anyway.
If this is being over redundant, let me apologize in advance, I just wasn't sure were you all overlap. Thank you for your time and consideration of the story.
Christopher Robin "Pulse" Fenner
christopher.r.fenner AT boeing.com
A story of the Main Force Patrol officers and their mission near the other end of the Transcon. Lesser know than the citadel called "The Lair" these officers sarcastically referred to their substation as "The Castle." A castle it was not, located a few miles from the Transcon; it was an old run down resort hotel in a nearly abandoned town (killed by the Transcon and the "Big Rains"). This was the unit they said was populated by the burnouts, the officers that were almost done, too affected by the road wars to fit in anymore. However it was also a place where a small few unlucky new officers were sent. Officers the administration wanted to hide for one reason or another. Or those they wanted to dry out behind the ears, before "if they were lucky" they were reassigned back to the hell that was the "Lair." This was Purgatory, even a second Hell for some.
This is the "Underside of Things" as Grayson Stewart (the Director of the Castle) would put it to the new blood that would trickle in every great once in awhile. Gray wasn't a big man standing only 5' 9", but his manner made you feel like you were in the presence of a giant. Trained in the early days of the Lair he was the only MFP officer to come directly from the military. Actually a former U.S. Marine Ranger that had come to Australia as an advisor (just before the beginning of the "Golden Years"). He had accepted citizenship and a position in the Australian military as an insertion trainer before being recruited to help start the Lair and the MFP. In Gray's presence you knew when you were wrong, you could feel it before he looked at you. And when you did meet his eyes, it felt like he would break you in two with his cold stare.
And there was Petty their mech/tech, the way he put life at the Castle was, "We make due here, we don't get the best, but it's the best we get." Petty wasn't your typical MFP (or any other) type either. Standing nearly 6' 7", and not appearing to weigh over 100 pounds, you always stood in amazement of how he could fit in and move about the vehicles he was assigned to keep up. His long fingers seemed to have eyes of their own, as he would reach behind a dashboard or into a dark engine bay. He would lift things that seemed almost to be ten times his own weight. Held over his head the bonnet of a car would look like a kite in the wind standing on the tip of its tail. Gray and Petty had an unusual relationship, for all of Gray's presence and air of power he would seem like an eager school kid when Petty would tell him about his latest idea to boost power of the vehicles in his charge. Petty and Gray were the two of the first three original officers assigned to the Castle or as the Central Bureau officially called it the "MFP PAD 9"(Main Force Patrol Prohibited Area Division 9).
A pursuit driver named Gunner was the third. He seemed old beyond his years; in fact nobody at the Castle knew his real age except for maybe Gray. Gunner would usually leave the Castle before the others. As he idled his pursuit past them on their way to the armory or garage they would hear him mumbling to himself, and notice he always tried to avoid eye contact. New recruits usually took up calling him the "Old Man" before too long. Once Petty asked him (and actually got an answer) "Why don't you ever talk or look at anybody else Gunner?" Gunner answered in almost a sigh, "Don't want to see them for the last time." Petty thought to himself "I wonder which way he meant that?"
Main Force Patrol Prohibited Area Division 9: The only remaining
of a former administrations attempt to sectionalize the MFP. (The
that almost killed the force, before it got off the ground.) Gray,
and Gunner were at the castle then and even had the opportunity to come
back to the "Lair", but each had his own reasons to stay. The Bureau
kept this one odd outpost as a last chance to stop the gangs before
made civilization, to be sure that the trains that made it through were
still in the possession of the rightful owners and to aid long traveled
Officers from the "Liar" to make it home. To these three it was home or
at least all they had now, and it was truly the middle of nowhere.
Chace Allan had been at the Castle for three months when things began to change.
Chace was a Stinger (a motorcycle officer). He had come to the
of his own free will (sort of). He had been made an offer to leave the
MFP or be stationed at the Castle. The offer had come after only being
out of training for two weeks. Chace had been implicated in the killing
of four "suspected" Armalite gang members. He had justification and had
acted within policies and procedures, but the OPO (Office of the
Observer) felt it showed too much of a "tendency", so they forced the
to reassign or eliminate the young officer.
Chace and his younger brother had grown up alone with their mother. Their father was on the old Victoria State Police Force, and had also worked as a motorcycle mechanic in his off time to help support the family. The brothers at the ages of eight and twelve had been forced to help their mother with his mechanic business after he was killed on duty. They did very well through their father's reputation and training becoming well liked among the motorcycle community. They cherished their mother and the opportunity to help support the family.
On the day of Chace's graduation from the Lair, the Armalite gang
Chace's mother and younger brother. After beheaded them both, and then
after spray-painting, "How many more mothers will see their young sons
die at the hands of your tyranny," on the boot of a captured Patrol
They set his dead brother at the wheel, mother seated on his left
his head in her lap. They had put his mother's head on a pike tied to
front; it looked like a gruesome knight's lance. They then sent their
through the window of the Stawell Times-News.
The next day Chace still reported to his First assignment, even after attempts by his new director Fifi Macaffee and his senior officer (assigned as his Field Instructor) James Goose had urged him "to take some time to grieve, boy."
He felt he didn't have a reason not to report, everything he had, except the MFP was gone now. He would use the MFP to avenge the murders. Even with Armalite's influence and power it wasn't hard for Chace to call on a few old friends of his fathers and get the names he wanted. Once he had the names it wasn't much time before he knew their haunts. He followed them for several nights on their nightly rounds to acquire amber fluid and petrol. He discovered that their final leg home was always the same. It took the gang members down a road that had been closed by the PASM; the gang had taken down the sign and cable that had held it up. Chace put in a request that the cable and sign be replaced. He then arranged to watch and protect the workers as they reinstalled them, by trading duty with an officer (Max Rocketansky) whose wife was due with their first child.
He just waited until the workers were done then took the cable loose
from one side and laid it out along the side of the road. Once the gang
members passed to begin a night of acquisitions, he reinstalled the
and covered the sign with a bit of mud. He then doubled back to where
knew the four would pass on their way back. Once he saw the members
loaded down with contraband, he merely called in the situation to
and began the pursuit. He pushed his speed, so they would push theirs.
At one point he thought they were going to take a different route, but
a Pursuit Special joined in and caused them to stay the course. When
began to approach the road and their doom he let up a little too much
the Pursuit Special took up in between him and the bikers. As he
hard at the brakes he saw and almost heard the first bikers head come
His bike slid to the ground, as the next two came off and bounced off
Monaro's windshield. It looked as though the fourth rider was going to
stop in time when the Monaro's bumper forced him on. The officer in the
Special ducked just in time as Chace's little plan succeeded (and also
happened to create the first and only convertible Pursuit Special). The
OPO's investigation had dragged on for months. They could show
however they couldn't prove that it was premeditated. Even with the
leader pleading with his lawyers and the OPO that "it was revenge" he
not admit to what it was revenge for. So after only six months on the
Chace was made an offer, and sent to the Underside of Things to the
. . .
It was 4:00 a.m. and Chace was walking down the street to the castle to start his shift, when he noticed the sunrise. It seemed smaller than normal but strangely bright on the horizon. He was still drossy from the night before, he had played cards with Isaac an old miner that still lived in town. He saw his shadow start to stretch out in front of him and suddenly it hit him the glow on the horizon wasn't the sunrise. A grave feeling washed over him, he knew something was very wrong. When he hit the courtyard of the castle at a full sprint, he almost fell over trying to make the corner), Gray was already there. He was calm with a clipboard in his hand.
Surprised by Chace's excitement he questioned, "You know about the new equipment and officers?"
"It should be here any minute by my count". Chace couldn't breath pulling on his helmet he wheezed "Fire on the horizon . . . huge." He jumped on to his bike it fired up before he hit the seat.
"Gunner was on last night. Where's Gunner?" shouted Gray at the now empty (again) courtyard, the echo of the Kawka still bouncing off the walls.
Chace made the top of the last rise in the road before the scene when he realized Gray and Petty were behind him. They were in a premier car. It appeared to be an Interceptor, but a Interceptor couldn't have caught up to a bike that fast, especially with the head start he should have had. He looked back at the road just in time to slam on the brakes and avoid hitting the wreckage. It was everywhere covering what seemed to be a mile of the Transcon. On the side of the road was a burning Pursuit, on the center lane was a burning MFP transportation bus, and across from him was a flatbed road train. It too was burning. He winced as he took off his helmet. He could smell burning flesh and hair. He hung his head in despair and noticed he was standing in a burnout circle with a strip through it. The sign was here and so was Armalite.
The stench the three smelled was almost unbearable. As they waded through the burning bodies of officers scattered over the road. Petty noticed a message stuck to the sector sign on the side of the road, "MOTHER you've killed your young sons, but we have your daughters and your old man." The death toll of the sign had also been changed; the number had been smeared with blood and "Tune In" was scratched into the reflective paint.
"Twenty seven," Isaac said, as he wiped at his brow.
"Had to end up counting torsos, so many other parts were missing or just scattered about. Don't have that many heads, but I think twenty seven is the right number."
Gray was looking into a cup of coffee. "Any females?" he asked.
Isaac shook his head and began to turn to the door. Gray put his hand on his shoulder. "Bring me the badges you can find. Bury the rest."
Gray turned and walked past his desk and out onto the balcony. He looked out to see the entire ranks of the castle standing in the courtyard. It was only fifteen officers, though it didn't include Petty, Darren (a local they had recruited to help in the armory), or Helen. (Helen was an agent of the OPO that had been sent about a month ago to see where corners could be cut, and insure that the MFP wasn't over stepping its bounds.)
"Got done checking the manifest, and talking to the Lair," Gray started then paused to clear his throat. "Seems we have twenty-seven dead, and four missing. One of those is Gunner, the other three, close as we can guess are female officers. It appears they have also taken some equipment and supplies, everything from guns and ammo to a jet engine. And it appears this didn't just happen here. Seems Armalite has started trouble all the way up and down the Transcon. One of their gangs even caused some trouble in the Lair's own backyard. Killed a few officers and another's wife and son. Check the board, things have changed . . . "
The courtyard was silent except for an angry groaning growl from one officer, which caused Helen to shutter then start to cry. Another officer leaned over and whispered to Helen, "Justified in our anger, and rightful to morn, but we'll not waste our time on fear, for that will surly come."
When the officers checked the shift board they saw that it had been
changed, that they had been scheduled in teams. Four officers would use
two Pursuits and one more as a Stinger would patrol and search within
fuel tanks range during the day. The same would continue at night with
the addition of an Interceptor manned by two additional officers.
Chace noticed that he and two other newer officers, Hugh and Trey, weren't on the schedule at all. Their names were just noted at the bottom. It said, "See Grayson." Also at the bottom of the schedule was a directive to all the officers to move into the Castle at once (many officers had taken up residence in homes and establishments in the town).
When Trey and Chace stepped into Gray's office he was seated with the box of badges Isaac had collected on his lap. Hugh was already seated in a chair beside the window. Gray explained to them that the Lair had constructed an extended range interceptor and Petty was just about complete doing the same. He told them that they and their counter parts from the Lair would need these "ER" Interceptors to Patrol between the Castle and the Lair, due to the destruction of many of the fuel depots between the two. He further explained that these crudely modified Interceptors with large fuel tanks installed, would need backup while beginning their trip due to the increased fuel weight. This would be accomplished by the use of two other new "quick response" vehicles. As they spoke they left Gray's office, following him to the garage area where they meet Petty covered in black over spray.
"Did ya tell 'em, Gray?" Petty beamed.
"No, I saved that for you. You're the creator. You can have the honors."
They first walked over to a motorcycle covered in a tarp. Petty pulled the tarp off in one quick jerk. It was a Stinger at first glance but there was something different about it. The exhaust was an off white (Ceramic coating? Chace thought to himself) and it cut back and up after it left the heads. As they took a closer look, Petty explained, "It's turbocharged!" And it's got nitrous!" He elbowed Chace, "It'll out accelerate anything on the road, except for maybe the beast we trailed you with yesterday." And that baby's over here."
As they stepped around a corner there sat an interceptor with a fresh coat of black paint. "Just finished her as you came in. She's still wet, so no touch'ie, K."
"I call her the Lone Wolf," Petty said as he explained her assets. The Lone Wolf was equipped with two 351s, one turbocharged and sitting in the regular engine bay. The other supercharged and installed facing aft high behind the front seats. Actually there was just the driver's seat installed. Everything else had been removed. Petty explained that this and the ER had been stripped to reduce weight. While its outer skin looked like an interceptor it was actually a purpose built frame and cage underneath the sheet metal.
"You could drive it through a wall, I think," Petty said as the men admired the work. He then got a worried look on his face as he imagined his creation tearing through a wall. "It's all-wheel drive and has dual wheels in back so you can get that power to the road," he blurted out trying to get the thought out of his mind.
"It's quite the mess of parts, isn't it?" Hugh said with more than a bit of distain in his voice he had never appreciated Petty or his work.
"Don't have to drive it, if it's toomuch for ya," Petty snapped as he put himself between the Lone Wolf and Hugh.
"I do what I can with what I get," Gray pulled Hugh back.
"We need you to drive, and we need you to make what he drives right."
"If I can't count on you to keep each other alive out there, then
kill ya both myself and save Armalite the trouble." Hugh jerked away
Gray's hands. He hated being shoved around but knew he couldn't do
about it, not now at least, not there.
Chace jumped from his sleep, he had felt something brush by his face. He was now out of his bed with his pistol in one hand and his jacket in the other. He stared into the dark room trying to get his eyes to adjust. Something fell off the dresser behind him and he spun around swinging his jacket, and cocking the hammer on the pistol. A low shadow darted from near the door towards the bed. Someone grabbed his pistol as the hammer snapped shut on their hand.
He swung and threw his jacket as he heard the intruder shout, "Don't shoot me dog man. He was just say'in good morning."
Chace flipped on the light while pointing the now uncocked weapon at his uninvited guest. As his eyes adjusted to the light Trey continued, "Hey man it's just me, time to get a start buddy."
"Daylight's burning and so's my pedal foot, got to give those buggies a test run eh! By the way has anybody ever told you, you're a grump in the morning?"
Chace just stood there amazed. Dog? "What DOG? What are you . . . ?"
"Hey, Dog, com'er meet me new partner, sssweee. Trey whistled. "Dog Chace, Chace Dog." Out from under the bed came -- no, crawled -- a young heeler. "He's kind of squirrely at times but he loves to ride in fast cars."
"I could have shot your ass. Partners? Who said we were partners?" Chace quipped back.
"Not with an uncocked pistol and you don't think I'm pair'in up with that mouth breather Hugh do ya," Trey answered as he jumped to his feet, sweeping Chace off his, and yanking the pistol out of his hand in one clean move as Chace fell.
"Now who's up on who?" Trey asked as he dropped the clip out of the gun and cleared the chamber. Dog now had a hold of Chace's pant leg, growling.
"Give me a hand up . . . partner." Chace reached out his hand, "and call off the hounds eh."
The two young officers made their down from the fourth floor (where the old hotel rooms were being used to house the MFP personnel). Once downstairs they made their way through the lobby toward the stairwell to the parking garage. On their way across the old dusty and stained carpet of the once grand resort, they encountered Hugh. He was coming out of Helen's office/quarters which consisted of two of the old bellmen rooms situated right next to the front desk. One of the rooms had been made into an office and one was left as quarters.
When they caught each other's eyes, Trey smiled sociably, but Hugh nervously glanced back at the door as it clicked closed. Chace and Tray stopped as Hugh turned back to them snapping, "What are you grinning like an ass about?"
"Just a fine morning for a drive," Trey answered.
"Thought you might like to join us for trip half way to nowhere, if your not too busy that is." His eyes shifted to the door Hugh had just came through.
"What are you gawking at, twit? We were just havin' a meeting, wasn't 'bout you or your business," Hugh said shoving at Trey's shoulder with the open palm of his hand. At this the young pup Dog leaped onto the front desk, sliding on the dust covered Formica. As he regained his balance he stopped, eye level to Hugh's badge hanging on his open jacket, growling as fiercely as he could.
"Curb the mutt or you'll both have be having a brass lobotomy, this FINE morning," Hugh spit as he took a step back for the brave little heeler.
Trey snatched up Dog under his arm, as he started back towards the stairwell he whispered to the pup and Chace, "Looks like maybe the only thing he was able to get up this morning was his temper, eh?"
As they entered the stairwell Hugh shouted, "We're not done, dog boy."
Chace, having enough of Hugh, stuck his head back through the door and answered "Save it for Armalite and getting Gunner back, ass."
When they entered the garage Petty was wiping down the ER under the watchful eye of Gray.
"Good morning men. The shift last night had a bit of luck." Trey and Chace looked up from their conversation, surprised to hear Gray's voice.
"Seems at the end of their range, they spotted some tracks leaving the Transcon and heading out into the Underside". So you two are to be the lucky ones today. Want you to take the ER and the new bike, head out from where the others spotted the tracks. You can use the extra fuel from the ER to top off the bike and extend both your ranges, hopefully it will be enough to get an idea of where they got off to."
"What about the third on our team?" Chace asked sarcastically.
"Officer Malloy is going to hold back here with the Wolf. He'll be your backup, but it seems Miss Dorak has some OPO duties she would like him to attend too," Gray answered in a tone that said he was disgusted with the whole issue and not to press it. But Chace and Trey couldn't hold it in they both broke out snickering.
Trey sputtered, "Wants him to attend to her duties, does she!" Both officers then broke out in a full laugh, Petty even began to snicker.
"I really don't care if they're braiding each other's hair as long as it keeps her out of mine," Gray snapped as he grabbed Petty Rag. "Do I need to tell you two again to hit the road"?
With that the two men and faithful Dog lunged for their new road
Gray could still hear the echo of the Kwaka and ER as he came into the lobby. It reminded him of the morning when Gunner and the others met with fate and Armalite. As he made his way towards the courtyard door he noticed Isaac's hat on a stone planter. Thinking it odd he crossed the room and picked it up. He noticed it felt wet, and drew it in to examine it closer (almost looking as if he would smell it). Then with a jolt he dropped it to the floor, his eye had caught a glimpse of what looked like bit of leather sitting in the planter under where the hat had been. He looked down at his now empty hand, just as he feared; it was covered in blood. Scanning the room and drawing his gun he reached for the bit of leather. His fingers withdrew in a flash as the tips barely touched it. A quiver ran through his body as he realized it wasn't leather but a bit of Isaac's scalp.
Gray moved back deeper into the lobby. As he headed towards the front desk and the radios, he noticed the door to the armory (which had been a conference room converted with a large heavy door and numerous locks) was ajar.
"DARREN! Are you in there?" Come on boy, answer, he thought.
Entering the armory he noticed the disarray of the weapons and that there was blood on the floor. As he made his way down the isles of toppled weapons and racks, he could tell things were missing. As he came back up one aisle, he could hear the radio at the front desk . . . CLICK-CLICK . . . as if some one was keying their hand set.
Making his way through the armory door, he realized there was a strange silence about the room. Moving slowly across the dingy carpet the only sound he could hear was the rhythmic CLICK-CLICK of the radio.
Gun at the ready Grayson Stewart could feel death as he lunged for the lower edge of where the front desk ended. Hitting the floor he brought his weapon to bear at the sound he heard. When his eyes focused he realized he had his aim on Darren. He could tell the young man was in shock, truly he looked nearly catatonic. His throat had been slit ear to ear, his light blue MFP t-shirt looked purple from the blood. Sitting with his back against the corner of the counter, he would key the microphone in his hand, each time Gray could hear a whisp of air exit his wound.
Bringing himself up next to the boy, Gray took the mic out of his hand, "It's okay, son. You did well. Help is coming. Rest now. They're almost here." That was all the boy needed to hear, knowing his job was done he let his life finish also. His eyes fluttered, he smiled up the ceiling and Gray felt the last bit of life fade from his body. As he laid Darren on the floor behind the counter, Gray noticed a bit of bronze shinning through his other clenched fist.
As he opened Darren's hand Gray picked up the microphone. Just before he keyed it, he freed the bit of bronze. It was a badge. He knew he was freeing a badge but hadn't figured on whose it was. As he read the numbers mouthing each one he realized it was Hugh's. He keyed the radio, flustered by the events unfolding, he just shouted "Trey, Chace, this is the Castle come-in."
An unfamiliar voice came back at once, "Well hello, this must be the King of the Castle. Glad you could tune into our little show."
Gray could hear the music start in the background of the voice. It continued, "Welcome to the Armalite Hour of Power. We're so glad you could all join us today, for the end of your world."
Gray tried to cut off the transmission, but the voice had the other end hot mic'ed. He wanted to just shut off the radio, but needed to listen.
"We'd like to thank you for your generous donations, especially the fine young ladies that have been providing us with so much entertainment."
As he listened Gray made his way around to Helen's rooms. Kicking open the door and scanning the room, he realized no one was there. The voice on the other end of the broadcast was rambling some political rhetoric about the consortium and who really owned the Transcon. Gray began to buzz the rooms of the officers that had retired after their shift. No one was answering, and he heard the voice announce "and now for some lively entertainment, from a local group Gunner the old ass Bronze. He'll be performing his rendition of 'Oh my God, make them stop' while we disembowel him."
Gray put his fist through the wall and began to weep, as he could hear Gunner begin to scream. He could also hear laughing and some crying in the back ground as the tortured officer would gasp for breath.
Hearing the broadcast begin Trey had brought the ER to a sliding stop, laying on the horn and siren to get Chace's attention. As the officers listened to it they had no way of knowing what had happened at the Castle. Trey had only heard the beginning of Gray's transmission before; this one cut him off. Just before Gunner began to be tortured, they decided they should continue their search. They reasoned they maybe able to use the squelch on the ER's radio to judge if they were getting close to the source of the transmission. Pained by what they were hearing, and fearful of what they maybe missing at the Castle, they were compelled to listen and continue.
As the torture began they stopped again, both men writhing in anger over what they couldn't stop. Chace suddenly noticed something coming from the direction on the Castle, coming fast. Once it got close enough they could tell it was the Wolf. They were relived at the thought of the extra help even if it was probably Hugh.
Stepping out of ER, Trey appeared to notice something. "Who's that with him?"
"There's somebody in there with him," he yelled across the blacktop to Chace.
The Lone Wolf came to a stop between both men. It was Hugh, and Helen (Miss Dorak) was with him. She was sitting on a crate that had been placed where the passenger seat should have been. Confused by her presence both men asked in unison, "What's she doing here?"
Looking like he had just come up with the answer Hugh snapped back, "It's not safe for her at the Castle."
"Gray sent us to help, Just follow us we know, think, we know where they are," Helen answered in too calm of a voice.
When Trey got back in the ER he realized the transmission had stopped. As he put the unit into gear the radio sputtered, then he heard Gray. His voice sounded strange almost exhausted. "MFP any MFP this is the Castle.
"This is Ranger One come back Castle."
"Ranger One Armalite has taken the Castle. Everything gone, everyone gone. Malloy, Dorak, Petty missing presumed dead also. Return to Castle.
"Gray, I'm following Hugh and Helen right now," Trey answered confused.
"Turn around! Do not pursue! Maybe a trap." Gray was putting the events together. That was the only way Armalite could have know about the new officers and equipment coming. That was the only way they could have made it into the castle that morning. Helen and Hugh had helped them, they were part of them, and they were leading some of the last officers he had to there death.
"NEGATIVE CASTLE, IN PURSUIT, have to warn Ranger Two. Ranger One out."
With that Trey chirped the siren of the ER. When Chace looked back over his shoulder, Trey motioned for him to get over. Taking up the position behind the Lone Wolf he realized that Hugh had the Wolf's radio shut off and concluded he had him by surprise. Allowing the heavy Interceptor to fall back slightly, he engaged the blower down shifted and floored the accelerator. The ER leaped forward with the sudden burst of horsepower and torque. The Wolf jolted and swerved violently with the impact as Helen fell back off the crate hitting her head. The ER impacted the Wolf again tearing the rear valance and bumper off the wolf and the lower spoiler off the ER. Helen trying to regain her balance and composure began to swear. Hugh engaged the second engine of the Wolf and began to put some distance between him and Trey. Seeing all this happen, and thinking that Trey may have snapped Chace took up pursuit of the Wolf. Both of the faster vehicles began to leave the ER in the dust, even though it was probably still traveling above ninety.
As Chace caught and came along side the Wolf, he could see that Helen was struggling to re-seat herself on the crate. His eyes drifted up just in time to see Hugh's shotgun pointed at his face. Simultaneously Chace hit the nitrous on the Kawaka, as Hugh with an evil and angry smile pulled the trigger. The Stinger shot forward allowing the blast from the weapon to just graze his jacket. Hugh slammed on the brakes and brought the Wolf around facing Trey who was still in pursuit. Helen flew forward, her forehead hitting the dash, as her body weight continued forward, Hugh heard an audible crack as her neck broke and she slumped to the floor. He swore as he mashed the twin pedals to the floor and dumped the clutch, all six tires of the beast let out a tremendous low howl.
As Trey saw the Wolf exit the cloud of blue smoke, he gave the Interceptor the last bit of pedal she had, pushing down so hard pain shot through his knee and up his back. The two Interceptors bore down on each other at a tremendous rate, but it felt slow motion to Trey. He noticed a small abandoned filling station on the side of the road and allowed the ER to slowly drift to that side of the road. Hugh matched the move. Just before they should have impacted Trey knew he had him. Trey yanked the wheel hard right away from the station and then right back to center. Seeing Trey swerve to his left Hugh yanked the wheel to the right. Helen's body slide across the floor and onto his feet. He kicked her body away and looked up just in time to see the front of the Wolf start to peel away as it went through the station. He lunged for the tunnel and the floor but his harness kept him nearly upright. As the windshield shattered and its frame tore from the body of the Interceptor, they both racked through the flesh of his face. When it came out the other side the Lone Wolf looked like a rail buggy, its two huge engines still running it rolled to a stop.
As Trey and Chace came to a stop in front of where the station had been, a few small fires burst up from the rubble. Leaving their units the two officers and Dog approached the wreckage. Walking past the station and nearing the remains of the Wolf, Chace asked, "What the hell was that all about?"
"Gray radi -- " Trey started to answer but stopped as Dog turned back toward the station and began to growl and back up. The two officers drew their guns and began to turn as a shot rang out causing Trey to spin around and fall to the ground. Chace came around to see Hugh or what was left of him standing in the rubble. His face looked to be hanging about his neck, his hands were cut and bleeding, his left boot and leg were actually smoldering.
"You first" he said, both man had their aim set on one another. Chace drew the hammer back on his pistol.
"No problem," Chace said as he pulled the trigger. Click. He suddenly realized he had never chambered another round after the wakeup call he had from Trey and Dog.
He dove to the ground trying to cock his weapon as Hugh's shot rang out. He heard it ricochet off what was left of the Lone Wolf, and looked up to see Dog hanging from Hugh's jacket sleeve. Hugh reached for the heeler.
Bang. A shot rang out bringing Chace back to reality. Bang. Another shot and Hugh dropped to his knees. Chace turned to the sound of the shots it was Gray leaning over the hood of a pursuit with a high-powered rifle.
As Chace tended to Trey's shoulder, and Peter (the pursuit driver that had arrived with Gray) sat looking at the fire they had built. Gray explained what had happened and his plan. The day shift had been ambushed while on patrol, leaving only Peter as a survivor. The night shift had been killed in their sleep, presumably by Hugh and Helen. Darren and Petty were dead also and most of the equipment at the Castle was stolen or rendered useless. While they still had three women officers held captive, he felt that at least some of them should try to make the Lair. After arguing over who and how, it was decided that, Trey would take the ER. He was wounded but not bad enough to keep him from driving. Chace would escort him as far as he could and still have enough fuel to rejoin the other two. Gray and Peter would prepare and start to search for the gang. Once Chace got back they would have a plan, and by then they felt like Trey may have gotten some help on the way, so they would then attempt to get the officers back.
After transferring as much fuel as possible to the ER and Stinger,
and Peter headed back to the Castle. Trey and Chace watched them until
they were out of sight, then looked at each other and started on their
own way. Dog put his head out the window breathing in the morning air
nothing had happened the day before, Chace rode beside the Interceptor
wishing he could forget too.
It was late in the evening and the sun was just beginning to set, turning the sky into a kaleidoscope of colors. Chace was exhausted; he transferred gas from the ER to his Kawaka, readying the bike for the trip back to the Castle. The officers had figured they were at the point where Chace should head back. He was glad the long ride was almost over but was concerned about leaving Trey to finish the last leg of the run to the Lair himself. Ever sense they had left the Castle and the Underside they had been trying to reach the Lair's dispatch, but had only gotten static and clicks on the overhead. They planned on bedding down for the night and each heading their separate ways in the morning. As the dark of night overtook the colors of the sunset, Chace noticed that there appeared to be a light on the horizon, maybe it was a fire, a camp or even small town he thought. As he and Trey focused on the light they could barely hear what sounded like laughing and shouting, Chace started to fear maybe it's an Armlite gang. The desert was still and calm, with only the faint sound that was coming from the light they watched flickering in the distance. They both figured that it must be close, so they decided that they would conceal their equipment with some brush and try to investigate on foot.
Making their way across the desert they could see that they were coming up to a small valley, or maybe even an old quarry. There was a small out cropping of rocks and dirt at one edge of the depression in the desert floor. Near it was what appeared in the dark, to be a road going down in to the depression. The light and the laughter were coming from the bottom of this pit. They decided to make their way over to the rocks and try to get a look down to the source of the light and sound. Once at the rocks and beginning to look over the side, they both felt cold steel on the back of their necks. Turning around slowly they saw a shadow of a figure holding a sawed off shotgun in one hand and a service revolver in his other.
"Shhh, put your guns at my feet and I won't have to splatter you all over these rocks," said the figure.
"Let's not disturb your friends, and their party, now," Chace answered as he and Trey began to remove their weapons for their holsters.
"Not any friends of mine, thought they were yours," answered the shadowed figure.
Trey looked at Dog trying to give him a signal with his eyes, but Dog just curled up at the stranger's feet. Dam now he gets friendly, Trey thought to himself.
Something moved in the pit just enough the throw some light on the figure there was a flash of gold from the breast of his jacket as he crouched out of the new light. Realizing it was a badge; Trey said (almost to loudly), "Your MFP? Are you from the Lair?"
The figure moved in slightly closer, snapping back, "Shut up. Yes, sort of. Just who the hell are you two anyway?"
Chace's answer was excited and relived, "We're from the Castle. Trey and Chace, we're MFP officers, too!"
The figure leaned in a bit answering, "Ah from the Underside of things eh? You must belong to Grayson. I guess maybe I can trust ya. But there isn't any MFP or a Lair anymore, boys."
Shocked by the figure's comments the younger officers looked at each other then back at the shadowed figure. "You're still wearing that badge and as long as there's one Bronze, there's still an MFP," snapped Chace.
The figure lunged out of the shadow and grabbed Chace by the neck forcing his head into the rocks. With his sawed off shotgun still pointed at Trey, he answered "I'm not Bronze anymore, I'm just as dirty as they are down there that kill the Bronze. The only difference tonight is I'm killing for justice, not for fun."
Chace swallowed hard. He now recognized the voice and put it with the face that was now out of the shadows and directly in front of his. This was Max, the officer he had covered for when his baby was born, on the night he had sought vengeance on those that killed his family.
"Your Max, Goose's friend. He was my field training officer," Chace answered with his voice harsh from the pressure of Max's hand on his throat.
Max let him go and sat back in the dirt, lowering his shotgun. "I'm
not anybody anymore, and anyway that scum down there took my vehicle,
my food, not to mention the killing of some people down the road." So
you still fashion yourself MFP, then how 'bout you give me a hand to
back what's rightfully mine?"
As the three men peered over the edge of the rocks, below them was about ten people (obviously gang members), a half dozen bikes, a red Ford tow truck, and . . . an "Interceptor," exclaimed Trey. Max grabbed him by the lips and glared, "It's mine."
As the three watched, trying to take note of every detail of the camp below them, the gang began to start to settle in for the night and pass out. They had been drinking and carrying on for some time, one of them stubbed over near the fire then vomited into it. The fire hissed and a stench climbed out of the pit to where the three watched. Dog covered his nose with his paw; the fire below them flickered nearly going out. As the last degenerate below curled into a ball on the floor of the pit, Max looked at the others. "Now's the time. Boys, get your guns out of the dirt will'ya."
The three moved slowly down the road, and into the encampment of the gang members. Slowly each of the three made their way across the stone covered pit floor, each stopping over one of the gang members. They each picked up a heavy rock, and looking at each other brought it down with a fluid almost simultaneous motion, into their sleeping foes' skulls.
The three started to slowly move to their next targets, planning to repeat the same. As they moved, Chace tripped, knocking over one of the bikes with a crash. All hell broke loose. Max dropped his rock, just missing his own foot and Dog. Pulling his shotgun he fired both barrels taking out one gang member and wounding another. Trey embedded his rock in the face of a waking villain, and pulling his pistol he fired, finishing off the one Max had wounded. Chace had by this time pulled his own weapon and appeared to take aim at Max, shouting "Down!" Chace pulled the trigger. Max dove for the ground as he heard two rounds from Chace's pistol whiz past. Pulling his own pistol, Max rolled over and saw two gang members fall.
"Well, at least you can shoot," Max quipped as he got up and backed himself near the other two.
"Where's the others?" Trey asked nervously. Dust had risen into the air making it hard to see, they coughed and tried to peer through the brownish darkness, their hearts beating fast in their chests.
Dog let out a bark and an angry growl, just as the three heard an engine start. Max, Trey, and Chace turned to see the tow truck's lights come on; they heard the motor rev high and the sound of gravel being thrown into the air. Max shoved Chace hard backwards into Trey and the two younger men fell back, as Max took aim at the on rushing Ford. Time had seemed to stop, Max pulled the trigger and fired; once, twice, three times, with the lights of the truck in eyes. Max couldn't tell if his shots had hit home, but the big red Ford just kept coming. He jumped out of the way, hitting the ground hard he felt it brush past his boot, and heard two shots ring out. Chace had fired twice as he fell and the truck went by, one shot into the cab of the truck striking the driver in the temple, the other into left front wheel.
As the truck passed Max, it veered hard in the direction of the flattened tire and up the side of the pit next to the road. As its tires lost grip in the loose stones of the slope, the truck slide slowly back and rolled calmly on to its roof. Max looked back at the two young officers, to see Trey counting on his fingers.
"I think that's all of 'em right," Trey stated sort of matter of fact.
Chace and Max made their way over to where the truck had come to rest upside down. The dead driver's upper body was sticking out from under the cab. Max took note there was one round through each of his eyes, and Chace's through his temple. He thought to himself, Wonder where my third shot went? The three scanned the camp, the dust was settling and nothing was moving other than Dog playfully growling and pulling at one of the gang members boots.
Trey seeing that all was again calm, moved toward the Interceptor. "This was the first right. Supposed to be the last. Mind if I take a look?" He asked as began to look into the black on black.
Max and Chace almost jumped back both seeing a glint of bright steel pop through the back of Trey's jacket as he bent down into the window of the Interceptor. Trey didn't make a sound, he just slid back onto the ground beside the car. A young gang member sat in the car holding a bloody bayonet at the end of an old rifle; he began to twist at the bolt. Both Chace and Max shot just a fraction of a second apart. The round Chace fired buried deep in the boy's skull. As he slumped over, the round from Max's revolver glanced off the bayonet striking the fuel tank of the Interceptor. With an incredible blast the two were thrown back. What was left of Max's Interceptor and Trey lay burning on the desert floor.
"Damn. Damn. Damn. Shit," Max stomping around kicked at the dirt.
As Chace was getting up, dusting himself off and still trying to come to grips with what had just happened, he looked over at Max, then at what was left of Trey and the Interceptor and said, "Yea it's gone alright. Everything is gone again. I don't think I can see any right in anything anymore."
Suddenly being hit with the grief the young officer must have been feeling, Max asked "Where are you heading now Chace?"
Chace explained the events that had started Trey and himself on the trip through Hell and destiny, as they made their way back through the desert toward the hidden symbols of the dying force that they had been such a part of. Afterward, Chase said calmly, "I guess I'm going back to see if I can finish what Armalite started back at the Underside of things, to the Castle I guess."
"Believe me kid, your'e on your own now. Nobody's watching your back but you. You don't have any responsibility for them or they for you," Max stated, not really believing it, thinking Chace would not either.
"No, sir, I'm not going back because of responsibility, or MFP duty, but because they had been my friends and because I don't have anything else left."
"Trey's Interceptor is up the hill at bit. Your welcome to it Max. He won't need it any more that's for sure."
"Interceptor?" Max questioned.
"Yeah, it's a bit different than yours . . . was. Extended range tanks in the back, but if you'll take his dog, you can have his car too."
By then they had reached the spot where the two officers had hidden their units and had planned to camp. It was already nearing morning as they cleared off the bike and ER.
"I'm not going with you kid. I appreciate the car and what you and your friend did but, I'm not part of this anymore," Max coldly announced as they finished.
Chace straddled his bike and fired it up; he looked down at Dog then at Max. "Good luck Max, I hope you and Dog find what ever is left out there before they do." Chace gunned the throttle and rode away.
Before Max could open the door of the ER, Dog jumped through the window.
"Well, I guess you're coming then," Max asked.
Dog just put his paws up on the door edge and sniffed the air.
As he fired up his new Interceptor, Max could see the Kawka in the rearview mirror. It was just about to crest the last hill and disappear into the sunrise. Max idled the Interceptor slowly on to the blacktop, as he looked out far into the horizon, he gave the unit some throttle and turning it around he mashed the pedal hard to the floor as pulled the blower switch.