The steady, rhythmic ratcheting filled the garage at the new safe house. Ol’ Beastly sat stripped under the hard blue-white florescent lights. The stink of the fire still heavy even though the interior had been stripped and the parts removed from the garage. The air fresheners were begin to make a dent in the smell though as well as all the new scents, brand new tools, fresh fluids and parts. It was going to take a full garage and a hell of a lot of labor to get the big S.U.V. back into working order.
Nate sighed looking up the clump of lines and cables that had fused together under the truck. He wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of a greasy hand, his new forehead. It was an odd feeling being a new man. He looked around the creeper for a 3/8" socket and frowned. Every size but the one you need, he thought and began to wheel the creeper towards the front of beastly.
Laura was perched a top the empty engine compartment, crouched and sullen as she flipped through one of Tech-9’s repair manuals. She hadn’t dealt well with the news that she was responsible for the death of woman whose now orphaned children she had been trying to save from The Edge. Nate had invited to help with the repairs. Come on Laura, you might learn something about cars, he’d said. He wasn’t as smooth as his new looks should have warranted but it had stopped her from trying to commit suicide by orphan.
She looked over the top of the manual, down at Nate on the creeper, raising an eyebrow.
Man she’s getting more messed up by the minute, he thought before asking for the 3/8" socket.
Laura took a few seconds to acknowledge the statement, then finally picked the socket out of the toolbox and dropped it down to Nate. Thanks, he said catching it. She gave him a weak smile and went back to the manual. In the corner Tech pulled the gears from the transfer case one by one, inspecting each and whispering to himself.
Jesus. Nate thought, we are not the people to deal with this shit. Brennan had been there and he was a vet but Mike and Arianna were this teams heavy hitters and both of them had been hospitalized. That wasn’t the worst of it either, with Gator biting it in Yosemite they had no leadership or direction anymore and because if that they were finding themselves in bad situations all the time now. Laura and Nate had loved ones missing and they were off starting gang wars and police shootouts. Nate sighed and pulled himself back under beastly starting the ratcheting again.
A loud thump against the wall that rattled the doors and hanging tools caused them freeze, ready to defend themselves from whatever new hell was about to burst in through it.
Shit! Mike’s pained voice came through the wall. That’s gonna leave a mark.
Mike hadn’t quite gotten a handle on his new legs yet and he must have crashed into the wall. They all waited several tense moments but slowly started to realize there was no fire-fight coming and began to relax.
Finally Tech spoke. So what do you think is going on with Arianna’s contact disappearing, he asked the other two screwing up his face.
Nate didn’t stop ratcheting.
Oh, tortured into giving us up I’m sure. Arianna and Brennan are fighting for there lives somewhere, or already dead and I’m sure the rockets will come raining in on us in no time. He said with his slight drawl.
Tech let out a nervous laugh, it seemed all to possible and Nate to deadpan for it to be a joke. Nate continued, if for nothing more then to hear himself talk.
You know if you’d told me a month ago that Wally Leeds would be a dead man I’d have laughed in your face. Wally had gasoline and adrenalin pumping through his veins. He had the instincts of a cheetah and the soul of a winner.
Laura raised an eyebrow. Tech got a crooked smile on his face as he worked. Nate continued.
I don’t know jack about this black ops shit. I know how to drive, that’s what I do but still I thought I’d get through this no problem. Make some easy money and give my little girl a halfway descent life. Now I don’t even know if she’s alive.
Laura shifted uneasily at that thought. If dinosaurs and giant bugs were coming through these “red events” then who knows what was happening to those disappearing in the “blue event”.
I’ve been stupid, Nate continued. I thought I was invincible that I could out run anything, even death. I guess sometimes going fast isn’t the answer, he said sullenly. Nate stopped ratcheting. I’m sorry. My big mouth has gotten us into more trouble then we needed and got us away from what’s important.
Laura put the manual down thinking of the violent outburst she’d had that had injured many and left a few children orphaned. It’s not all your fault Wall, she caught herself before she said it. I mean Nate. That’s going to take some getting use to, she thought.
He rolled out, stood and wiped his greasy hands on a rag. He brooded on it a moment and then said Make no mistake guys, Wally Leeds is dead. They saw in his new brown eyes and the look on his reconstructed face that he had put him to rest. His sandy mop of blonde hair was jet and spiked back, his wild green eyes were now dark brown and brooding, and though there was hints of Wally in the face it was Nate’s face now. He finally looked over at the teenage cat girl still crouched up on beastly.
You and me, we got too much wrapped up in this. We gotta get out eyes on the prize if your girl friend and my little girl are gonna have a snowballs chance in hell. There was a seriousness on this new face she had never scene on Wally’s. No matter what happens from here on out, whether Brennan and Arianna are dead, whether Arasaka is waiting outside right now to frag us, or whether we have to fight a whole damn dinosaur army. No matter what. We don’t stop until we have our people back.
At that moment they knew that Nathan Phillip Hall meant every word that came out of his mouth.