It was a name that was given to them with so much respect for what they did. When Wolf named her group, they took it to heart. The Runners were like nobody else. Born without any fear, they were made for this. The cities were their playgrounds. The incompetent Empire military tried their damnedest to catch them, but they were left in the dust like the incompetent drones that they are. So much collateral damage had been done when they decided – “fuck it!” and just let fly with bullets. Weak cowards who hid behind guns. But what did they expect? They were American soldiers.
Most of these kids had grown up together. The oldest of them was her direct superior, Merc. While she answered to Wolf, she answered to him as well. It was understood that she was the intermediary between both groups. A way to keep things quiet. She was also the only one who knew Wolf by face and name. It wasn’t intentional. She remembered it well.
She was on the clock, running a package to a business interest in town. She was rounding a corner on the roof of a building when she caught sight of her. A young woman who was using the radio to talk to a group of resistance fighters. The battle was happening in town. Typically, they didn’t get involved in stuff like this, but something made her stop. The military was trying to lock down a city. It had been a bloodbath for the resistance, but something changed. They were getting help from somebody else. The Runner could now see who.
“R4, take your squad up to the corner. Set up behind the cars there and ambush the soldiers who are headed that way. Keep low. B3, set up on the roof of the capital building. Use the artillery you got off the train and take out the vehicles coming in from the north. Q1, head toward the center of town. Use the weapon on the back of the vehicle to take out the enemy command post inside their perimeter.” Several minutes passed. More explosions, Imperial soldiers pulling back. The Americans were losing?! It didn’t seem possible.
She tried to make her way closer, to get a better look at who this was. A Runner had the skills of a ninja, minus the weapons. Weapons only slowed a Runner down. She didn’t need them anyway. Her feet and fists were her weapons, and better than most soldiers would ever have.
Right as she got close enough to see the girl, she had a gun to her head. “So, what brings a Runner to me? Something tells me that you don’t have anything for me in that pack.” The girl tapped on the satchel with her gun. In an instant, the Runner ducked low. She locked her leg around the girl’s, bringing her down hard. At least, almost hard. The girl landed on her hands, using her free leg to knee the Runner right in the face. Both of them stepped back, breathing hard.
“So, I take it that I was right. Kudos for me.” She stood up, coming into the light. The girl was beautiful! Short hair that was dyed white. Very short. It was spiked on top of her head. Cold red eyes as well. The roots of the hair were a color she couldn’t determine. It wasn’t long enough yet to know. But she would find out, in time.
“Well then, since we’re being all friendly here, what’s your name?”
The Runner stood up, nursing her chin. “None of your fucking business. What about you?”
The girl sighed, leaning against the wall. “My name’s Quinn.”
The Runner was still annoyed about being hit, but she felt it slipping away as this Quinn interested her.
“Sorry about being a bitch. My name’s Gabrielle. My friends call me Gabby.”
“And who am I? Friend or foe?”
“Are you the one leading these people?”
“Then I guess that that makes you a friend. Can you win this battle? The Imperials are everywhere and they have more people than you.”
“I can, but I may need your help. You’re a Runner, right?”
Taken off-guard, but it wasn’t that weird of a question. “Yeah.”
“Good. How many others of you are there in this vicinity?”
Gabby thought for a moment. “Five of us, I think. Maybe four. Including me.”
The girl nodded, taking it in. “Alright, that ‘ll work. There’s a train nearby that we secured from the Empire. Can you and yours get to it?”
The Runner stepped forward. “Now hold on! We’ve got our own obligations, you know?!”
Quinn nodded. “Yes, of course. Tell you what, whatever you were going to be getting for these jobs, I’ll double it. For all of you on the clock. Deal?”
On her comm, she heard Merc. “Deal. We need the cash and she clearly is in a position to pay.
“Excellent, get your people to the train and wait for instructions. Also, patch me in to the network that your boss is using.”
That got Gabby’s attention. “What do you mean?”
“The comm in your ear, I’m assuming that it is linked up to your home base, correct?”
A pause before her ear buzzed. “The girl’s good. Impressive. Be straight with her. She obviously isn’t fooling around.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Quinn smiled. “Good. Patch me in to your boss, and make your way seven block northwest. You can’t miss it. I’m sure that your boss can mark it and lead the others there. Now show me what you can do. I’ll need you to put your all into this. We don’t have much time.”
Gabby smiled too. She loved to show off. “You got it! Merc, you copy that?”
“Got it. Have your girl switch over to 906.34.”
The train was exactly where Quinn said it would be. It was loaded to the brim with weapons, armor and a few vehicles for the Imperial soldiers. This train was headed out of the city to their government bureau. Good fortune smiled on the resistance today. Her compatriots met up, everyone eager to show what they could do.
They all heard when Quinn’s voice came online. “Alright, now that you’re all there, take the cargo inside of the train. I will have certain things for each of you to carry. For now, I will give you all code names. You are going to be ranked from K1 to K4. Give the tasks to those who you think can do it. K1, you are going to loading up a duffel bag with explosives. There should be some C5 in there. Load up as much as you can fit. It is already outfitted with detonators, so that’ll work fine. K2, you are making a weapon drop. There should be a large container of assault rifles. Latest models, so they should be reasonably light. K3, you are going to be taking some explosives as well. Load up the thermal grenades from the front car. K4, you are going to be taking one of the vehicles out for a spin. Don’t worry, I’ll be giving you a route that is clear of enemy activity. For the rest of you, I have marked locations on the map for you to get to. Avoid street-level if possible, but don’t do anything stupid. Especially not those who are carrying weapons.
Gabby noticed that one of them would be without a job. She looked at the others and they nodded. “Hey boss, what do you want me to do?”
“Stay there. Watch for enemy activity. If they show up, let me know then bug out. You aren’t armed or armored enough to play the hero, so don’t try.”
“I can fight!-“
“She’s right, Gabby.” Merc was always the voice of reason. “Imperial soldiers will come guns blazing. You see them coming, bug out.”
“I’ll have members of the resistance heading to your location to hold that position. When they arrive, make your way back to me, got it?”
Merc came back on. “Alright, everybody, move out and be safe. Let’s show the resistance what we’re made of!” The group loaded up and took off like speeding bullets. The city was their playground. All terrain was useful, if you knew what you were doing.
The Runners were like dancers. They made it all possible. When Quinn had her people rushing the enemy position, she had them to thank for it. They were proving themselves immeasurably useful. When Gabby got back, she looked over at her.
“Your people have done an amazing job. Thank you. I’ll have the money sent over to Merc’s location.”
The girl was stunned. “You know who Merc is, and where he is?!”
“Yeah, I had heard some things in the underground. Turns out, the resistance is a lot more informed than you’d think. But don’t worry, my lips are sealed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere I have to be.”
As she was about to go, Gabby reached out a hand, grabbing on to her shoulder. “Wait, will we see you again? Who are you, really?!”
Quinn just looked back at her and smiled. “I think I’ll leave that a mystery. See you around.”
Later on that day, they heard that the Viceroy was dead, killed by one of his own people. He apparently looked like he’d had the life sucked out of him. To this day, nobody knew how it was done.
Gabby was staring at the ceiling of her place when her phone beeped. She picked it up. It was Quinn.
Set up a meeting with Merc via the net. I’m coming home tomorrow. We have a LOT of work to do, and time is running short.
She turned it off, smiling. At last! Delivering packages around the city just wasn’t all that useful without a challenge.
Quinn was packing her stuff, smiling to herself. Her next plan was going to be just as big. The Empire would expect them to back off for a while. But that wasn’t her plan. Her plan was bigger. Much bigger. Now was the perfect time to strike. When the enemy is weakened and laying low. Hit them hard, don’t hold back, make them hurt. A good way to be at any time of the year.
Until next time, a quote,
“You know, there are two types of people in this world – those who do what they’re told, and those who are true to themselves.” -Yuji Sakurai, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad