Chapter 40: Dragomir
Highway 13, right outside Reyesent, Washington
Whether I wanted to or not, I had to retrieve Flameheart and Kyra from wherever they’d gone off to. Walker had vigorously insisted that all citizens, normal or mutant, would be in the city by 10:00 PM tonight, and of course, I had been recruited to help with that plan. I wasn’t sure how or where I would search for the missing women- not until I came across an old school bus. On the side of the bus was a tattered sign that read “Free Food”. I grimaced, remembering my gnawing hunger. I cringed suddenly as the memory of that first night came flooding back. It had been less than 24 hours and already I had resorted to cannibalism? What was wrong with me? I walked closer to the bus and tried to forget the fact that I had actually eaten one of my dear friends.
Once I got close enough to the door, I raised my fist to pound on the glass, but a young girl opened the door before I could hit anything. The minute she saw my face she flinched and tried to stealthily avert her eyes. I sighed inwardly, still not entirely used to people’s reactions when they saw my heavily scarred face framed with blood red hair with eyes to match. The only person who’d never seemed bothered by my appearance was Flameheart… a small wave of sadness overcame me when I remembered our last interaction- she had killed me. Literally. She didn’t even know I was alive now, probably didn’t care either. But then again, I had killed her first. The only reason I knew she was still alive was that Walker had briefly explained to me about mutations before I left this morning. It unnerved me and I could only hope that Svetlana wasn’t a mutant. All I had now was a gun with about four bullets and my own strength. “I need this bus,” I said, looking up at the girl from the ground.
She glanced back at someone I couldn’t see, then looked back at me, “What for?” she asked.
“I need to go after two people,” I explained, hoping to only say as little as possible. I had no respect for Walker and I could tell from the way he spoke that he didn’t want anyone to know about his little wrangling plan, but honestly, what would I gain from telling anyone? More useless, time-consuming questions, that’s what.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said, not sorry at all, “This bus is all we’ve got.”
“I’m sorry too,” I said quietly, not intending to let them stay in this bus at all. Quick as a whip, I grabbed one of the girl’s arms with one hand yanked her out easily. People were losing weight in this city, and fast. Normally I’d be concerned, but I was getting enough food. Walker had pulled the strings with Svetlana and now he, Skip, Esma, Derek, and I were being given plenty to eat. Of course, Svetlana didn’t know that I was one of the people she was feeding. If she did know, I had a feeling I’d go hungry like the rest of the citizens.
Once the girl was out of the vehicle, I climbed in, took one look around, and soon noticed a sickly looking young man with greasy black hair and a long scar on his neck coming toward me. I could sympathize with you, I thought, thinking of the jagged line on his skin, But I just don’t have time for that today. As soon as he was close enough, I took hold of his shirt with one hand and hooked his face with my free one. I let go of his shirt and threw a left upper-cut that sent his head snapping back and I finished the fight by turning him around, bringing him over to the back of the bus, and half-shoving, half-throwing him through the back window and onto the pavement bellow. I wasted no time in running back to the driver’s seat, closing the door, turning the key, and speeding off in the direction of what I hoped was the main highway.
Once I left the city and started to make my way down the deserted highway, I finally let myself relax. I allowed a small smile to creep onto my face as I remembered how good it felt to finally let out some of my energy on another human being. I hadn’t really gotten the chance to do something like that since Morcubus had fired me and the Chaos Pirates organization last year. I began humming to myself an old Romanian song I’d learned as a kid. God, how I didn’t miss those days in the least. I was free now, free from anyone’s commanding stare. Being with the Chaos Pirates had been fun. I’d defiantly say there’d been more pros than cons- it was basically days of shooting people out of the sky, then coming back to home base for drinks with Raphael and Rose, followed by sex with Flameheart, which was sometimes preceded by role-play that made everything that followed even sweeter.
But the only thing I hadn’t fully enjoyed was that I was a subordinate. Svetlana was our leader and, even looking at it without being biased, I thought I more than deserved that position. Before Flameheart had joined our little band, Svetlana and I had had what I Flameheart and I had now (or at least I hope we still had it now) only it was…different. I couldn’t say it was more enjoyable, but it felt more… dangerous. More my style. Flameheart was more playful while Svetlana was more aggressive. I’d sometimes get bruises after doing it with Svetlana, but with Flameheart, it was usually the other way around.
I sighed, knowing I would never be able to go back to those days. Flameheart would probably never talk to me again, Rose was dead, Raphael was gone, and teaming up with just Svetlana didn’t seem that appealing. Something in the distance broke me out of my thoughts and I squinted to try to get a better look. I couldn’t see very well, but it looked like two figures trudging along the side of the road. I floored the gas and sent the bus flying down the road. My heart skipped a beat when I recognized the tired faces of Flameheart and Kyra. I slammed my foot down on the break while keeping my eyes on their faces, trying to read their expressions. I pulled on the lever that opened the bus doors and walked out, bracing myself for the worst. Flameheart’s eyes widened when she saw me and I couldn’t tell if she was excited, scared, or angry.
“Dragomir!” Her face lit up when she called my name and I sighed in relief. She ran over to me and threw her arms around my neck, crying a little. I hugged her back as tightly as I could, hoping I wasn’t hurting her. “I’m so sorry I killed you!” She said in a slightly muffled voice. I laughed in spite of myself. I had rarely been apologized to and that was probably the best I’d ever get.
“I’m sorry I killed you, too,” I said as we finally pulled apart.
“Dragomir,” Kyra addressed me, almost as a question. “What are you doing here?” My mind froze and I debated whether or not I should tell them that I was only here because of Walker.
“Just driving around,” I answered, deciding not to. “What are two doing out here?”
Flameheart and Kyra quickly exchanged glances before Kyra responded, “We were trying to find an escaped robot. We think it might be dangerous.”
“Apparently a machine called KRIS,” Flameheart said to answer the look of confusion on my face, “Has escaped the lab it came from and could potentially destroy all human kind.”
“Again?” I asked jokingly, thinking of our current situation.
“Yes, again.” Kyra replied, not finding any humor in my joke.
“So where is it?” I wondered out loud, looking around as if it would pop up out of nowhere.
“We lost it,” Flameheart sighed, her mouth a tight line. “It looks just like a regular person, too. A little short, you’d mistake it for a thirteen year old girl. But’s it’s dangerous and it’s out there.”
“Let’s go back to the city,” I suggested, “It might already be there.”
“Great, let’s go,” Kyra agreed, her voice suddenly urgent as she ran into the bus and slid into one of the front seats. Flameheart and I followed her in and soon we were heading back toward Reyesent.
We weren’t in the city for very long before the bus puttered to a halt. The dashboard showcased a little glowing “E” for empty, signifying our time to get out. As we exited the bus, I felt like there was something I should’ve told them before making it back to the city, but I couldn’t think of what it was. After walking along the sidewalk for a few moments, Kyra asked, “Where are we going to stay?” I shrugged, still not wanting to admit that I was taking them to City Hall.
“Hey!” We all looked up at the sight and sound of someone coming around a corner and pointing at us aggressively. “You two, stop!” I tensed as he waved his finger at Flameheart and Kyra, making all three of us stop in our tracks. He looked behind him at a place we couldn’t see and called out, “I found some!” As more people started to come out from the shadows, the boy pulled something out from his pocket and flipped it open, revealing a sharp blade. A slightly older boy came out behind him and put his hand on the first boy’s shoulder.
A cigarette was stuck in his mouth and he didn’t bother to take it out while he said, “Hold on just a minute, Karl,” he took a few steps toward us and as I looked him up and down I couldn’t tell if I liked him or not. His tattoos and over-all rugged appearance suggested he might be a good addition for the Chaos Pirates, but he seemed a little young. He didn’t stop till he came face to face with Kyra, who stood her ground and looked him right in the eyes. He stared at her intently while subtly feeling her hand and lower arm. As soon as his fingers reached her chest she raised her hand and slapped him across the face, making him drop his cigarette. The boy was stunned for a second, but quickly got over it. “Go ahead and have fun,” he ordered, turning back toward Karl and the now small crowd that had gathered behind him. Almost everyone that had gathered had some sort of make-shift weapon on them, from sticks and wooden boards to lead pipes and knives.
Without warning, the mob lunged for us. Someone came straight at me with a hammer, but as they ran toward me with full force, I effortlessly punched them right in the stomach once they were close enough. They fell to the ground, coughing up a little blood. After that, no one else really bothered me. But it wasn’t because I had sent someone sprawling on the ground, it was because they soon realized that I wasn’t a mutant. Two people were grabbing at Flameheart’s arms and torso while another swept her feet out from under her, making her fall to the ground. Her ankle twisted around and she yelped in pain. Kyra was already pressed against the side walk, getting kicked repeatedly in the stomach while someone else held out her arm, pulled up the sleeve, and started slashing her arm with their pocketknife.
“Flameheart!” I called out to my lover who was still on the ground, but fighting back to the best of her abilities. “Your power’s fire, yeah? Use that to fight back!” Before waiting for a response, I turned and tried to help Kyra. On the drive back to town, Kyra had told me that her power was healing, and therefore she didn’t have anything extra to use in this situation like Flameheart did.
I got Kyra off the ground and away from the guy with the pocketknife, but was suddenly distracted by Flameheart answering me, “No!” She called out, “I’m not going to hurt innocent people!”
“Oh my God!” I yelled, my fear turning into anger and frustration, “You always say that, Flameheart! Choose to save yourself for once!” Someone broke a bottle over my head, sending shards of glass into Kyra’s face.
“Ah!” She cried out, bringing her hands up to where the glass had embedded itself in her flesh, trying to wipe the blood away. Looking over at Flameheart, I saw that she had gotten back up, but only for a second. Her twisted ankle prevented her from putting any weight on it and she was soon down on the ground again. Someone got on top of her, slamming their knee in her back as they grabbed her hair and yanked her head up, then smashing her face into the ground once they’d gotten enough height. I heard something crack and I was immediately overcome with a blinding rage that made me want to tear the limbs off of everyone attacking her. But she beat me to it.
In a flash everyone was suddenly overcome by an overwhelming heat. Flameheart’s entire body was covered in fire and I watched intensely as she slowly and shakily used her arms to prop herself up as best she could. I stared in horror at the sight of her now dented forehead and bloody face. I faintly heard someone yelling at everyone else to move out, but their voice seemed so far away. All I could do was stare at Flameheart’s broken, burning body. I couldn’t even be thankful that she was still alive, all I could see were the cuts and bruises and bloodstains on her clothes.
The flames retracted back into her body and she collapsed, leaving only a wisp of smoke in the air. Kyra limped over as best she could, one hand pressed against her right rib cage. She glanced up at me and noticed the expression on my face, “She’s not dead, don’t worry.” She said weakly, hoping I was listening, “The only thing that can kill her is ice, not a mob of ignorant kids. We should go find a place to lie down.” I nodded slowly, still speechless. I walked over and bent down next to Flameheart, looking at her torn and tangled hair and mangled skin in dismay. I picked her up gently and followed Kyra to where ever we were going. I looked down at Flameheart’s head, dangling lifelessly over my arm. If only I were still dead.