How are you my fellow Killjoys?

Here is the promised update, Part I, though I hang my head in shame at the lateness.

Well, school is over but I found a job...in fact, I've been stealing company minutes to finish this part so I've been typing in snippets.

I hope the length of this chapter makes up for its tardiness ;D

I HAVE TWO IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS!

THE FIRST IS MORE IMPORTANT: As you guys know, I challenged you, my readers, to take one of the chapters of this story and expand it into a full blown story. Motorbaby accepted the challenge and took up the mantle for Kobra Kid's chapter.

I AM PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT SHE'S STARTED POSTING IT!

HERE IS THE INFO:

Story: "Living Nightmare"

Author: Motorbaby

I am going to be pushy now and ask that you guys head over to her profile and read it. It really is awesome, I kid you not. I am incredibly happy and amazed at how she was able to expand on the idea and write it so well. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.

On a similar note, where are you The Swim Chick? Or anyone reading who is a staff member for the Killjoy stories community here on . PLEASE PLEASE add "Living Nightmare" to the community. It really is worth the time, I promise ;D

SECONDLY: Am I Still Accepting Killjoys?

Yes. However, due to the overwhelming initial response, I've filled all leadership positions for the zones and secondary roles. You are welcome to still submit your Killjoy though, and I will send you a list of the leaders for you to choose under whom you'd like to serve under, though your Killjoy will have a limited role.


PARTY POISON


"I have to go after her Poison."

Party Poison gives a heavy sigh and looks away.

He can see the setting sun through the dusty window of the Diner.

"Did you talk with DJ Hot Chimp?"

Cherri Cola huffs in frustration. He doesn't need this. And both men know it.

"He's the first one I talked to, Poison. He's my Zone leader after all. Had to inform him."

"Look Cherri, NewsAGoGo may–"

"Don't you dare! Don't you even fucking dare Poison..."

The other man stands then, hands clenched at his sides and tears in his eyes.

"We don't know anything about what happened to her and the others…don't you dare try to get me to stay by telling me she's gone."

Party Poison grips the table edges.

"This isn't easy for me either Cherri."

He remembers NewsAGoGo's smiling face, her Japanese, her taking care of Grace.

"You didn't love her. Not like I did."

He remembers the way she and Cherri stood back to back, the way they fought together, the way she whispered sweet things into his ear when they thought no one was looking, the way his tongue stumbled over whatever new Japanese phrase she'd been teaching him and how she laughed as a result.

The red-haired Killjoy feels the anger seep out of his body. Cherri Cola is right.

If it had been Kobra or Ghoul or Jet or Missile, he'd have gone to their last known location in a matter of seconds. Wouldn't have even consulted it with anyone.

"Are you going to tell the others?"

Cherri Cola is more relaxed now, though he is worrying his lip between his teeth.

"No."

"Would you like me to tell them?"

For a moment Cherri Cola wants to agree. But then, he remembers where he is going and why and what will be the most likely outcome and he reneges.

"No."

Party Poison only nods and again, Cherri feels the need to take it back. It will be an unfair burden on Party, his leader, his friend, but he can think of no other way.

The need to find her is too strong and it blinds him.

"I'll be fine Party."

Party Poison looks at him and Cherri feels the full force of his hazel eyes.

"I've been there Cherri."

"Then you will understand why I have to know."

"We do anything for love don't we?"

Cherri Cola smiles at him sadly, turning to leave.

"Would our hearts let us have it any other way?"


"Party?"

The leader of the Fabulous Killjoys launches awake, instantly on alert.

"Missile? What's wrong?"

The young girl steps forward and he notices in the dim light of the lamp he's turned on that she's carrying her satchel.

She closes his door behind her and pads quickly to his bed.

"There's something you should know."

The trepidation in her voice stirs the beginnings of panic inside his stomach.

"Whatever it is, you can tell me Grace."

Missile Kid is silent for a few seconds before she reaches inside her bag and pulls out the leather notebook Party had once seen and wanted to open.

Her small hands shake it and papers float down.

For a moment they look like drawings she might have done until he peers closer and sees the intricate diagrams.

There are only three pages but their importance is unquestionable.

"Where did you get these?"

Missile Kid's hands are trembling and she grips the bag closer to her body.

"When my mom…when she shoved me out the door, she gave me this satchel and…and my boom box and she told me to run to the desert…"

Her voice steadies now. Maybe defying him to stop her.

He remains quiet, looking briefly to his desk, where the radio she's talking about sits, before returning his gaze to her.

"And these."

She reaches inside again, pulling out one of the hated BL/Ind. pill bottles. This one is a little larger than is customary and when he takes it and opens it, the small pills inside are blue.

He quickly sets the bottle down. He hates the pills with a passion.

"She worked for them Party…my father was a journalist and had nothing to do with BL/Ind…but she…she worked for them…"

His throat closes up.

"She was a scientist…don't you see Party? She helped them make those pills!"

He pulls her against his chest then, letting her cry on his shoulder, resting his hand on top of her head in what he knows is a comforting gesture to her.

She mumbles something against his shirt and it takes some time before he is able to understand her plea.

"Please don't send me away Party! Please don't make me leave!"

Pain flares in his chest.

"You're not going anywhere Grace. I'll never let them hurt you. I promise."

She believes him, she always does, without question, and the weight of his promise everything he's ever promised to her and the others, suddenly feels stifling and heavy upon his shoulders.

He'll keep them all with his life if he has to.


"Your plan sounds excellent…however, this board has several concerns."

"I'm listening Director."

"How is it exactly that you plan to lure them away from their hiding place?"

Korse's smile is wide.

"I've taken two of their allies," Korse takes the folders in front of him and slides them across the smooth conference table to the director before doing the same for the other board members, "A female, alias 'NewsAGoGo' was taken two months ago. She has undergone successful rehabilitation as you well know."

The Director's nod is quick and content, "Yes. Mrs. Isoda is a most excellent secretary and representative for this company. But what about the male, this," The man glances at the second file, "'Cherri Cola'?"

Korse's grin only grows as his fingers tap on the white marble veneer of the table. "He too has been successfully rehabilitated and is working under me now, in the Draculoid unit stationed at Battery City."

"Reports from there have been positive Korse. I commend you for your work."

Korse's thanks for the compliment are short as he continues, jumping at the opportunity, "The male has divulged the location of one of the Zone leaders of the rebellion. He would not give up the Fabulous Killjoys, but I believe that the information he has shared is enough to set a trap for them. Draw them out of their hiding place, so to speak."

"And you believe this will work?"

"I believe that the plan will go off smoothly. They'll be the company's property by the end of the week."

The Director's eyes shine with clear greed and anticipation as murmurs of approval come from the other board members.

"There is one last concern we have Korse…The girl. You said that you would take her to Battery City. Can you guarantee us, without fail, that the Fabulous Killjoys will follow?"

Korse stops tapping his fingers but the smile never leaves his face. "The girl may know something. Her mother may have divulged sensitive information to her, even if the child is not aware of its importance. However, she will be more useful in telling us about how the rebel operation works. She's been with them for a few years, she must know something. As for the Fabulous Killjoys," Korse slides the last file under his hands across to the Director, "We do not yet know their true identities but we've observed them long enough to know how they operate. They've grown accustomed to the child, even grown to love her,"

Gruff chuckles spread around the table at the words,

"They will not be willing to let her go so easily. And that is a weakness we must exploit to the fullest extent."

The Director closes the file and looks directly at Korse, gaze hungry in a way that Korse knows well.

He feels that hunger all the time.

"Then you have this board's full support, Chief Exterminator. Carry on."

Korse leaves the conference room, hands shaking with eagerness.


"We'll just have to keep a closer eye on her."

"Any closer and we might as well just chain her to one of us," Fun Ghoul comments, making Kobra Kid and Jet Star smile, "Besides, all she needs is Paranoid Party around. You do enough close watching for all of us,"

Party Poison's lips quirk up in a small grin as he shakes his head ruefully, "Come on Ghoul. Let's try to be serious."

Fun Ghoul absorbs the comment instantly, "I know Party. But we are keeping a close eye on her. You know she never goes anywhere without us. They haven't come after her in all these years."

"I think he's right Party," Jet Star voices, "We're taking all the necessary precautions."

Party finally relents, "All right, all right. We'll keep with what we're doing so far. Seems to be working anyway."

"Good. Now that that's settled, anyone up for a spin around the desert?"

"As long as Ghoul doesn't drive!"

"Hey!"

"What? You drive like a devil. We don't need to die by car crash," Kobra laughs, hitting the shorter man amiably on the arm.

Fun Ghoul's pout makes Party smile.

"Besides, I'm not as bad as Cherri. Now that dude could burn the rubber like no other…Hey, Party, any news from Cherri?"

All eyes are on him now and Party forces himself to look at them.

He has not been able to reach the other Killjoy for over a month.

That knowledge weighs heavily on him every night, keeping him awake.

"Nah. He's probably being kept busy by DJ Hot Chimp. That man likes to send out runners more than Dr. Death."

They seem to accept his explanation and Party sighs quietly in relief, though something turns inside his stomach at the way they easily accept his lie.

They continue to joke around until Show Pony roller-skates into the room, looking a little flustered.

"Dr. Death needs you in the comm. room. He says it's important."

Something sparks inside Party's mouth as he and the others follow Show Pony. Something that tastes like foreboding.

"How long ago did he send this?" Party Poison asks, holding the short message in his hands. The paper is dusty, the envelope torn where Dr. Death Defying opened it with a knife.

The signature has faded a little but the seal at the bottom is unmistakable.

"A couple of days maybe. You know how long it takes to get runners here from Zone 1."

"Well, it doesn't sound that urgent," Ghoul comments, reading the message that's now been passed to Jet Star.

"Knowing Triggerpull, he's trying not to sound too panicked. Dr. D, can you get him on the communicator or the radio?"

"Been trying both since Show Pony brought me that message but he ain't answering either, Jet."

No sooner do the words come out of his mouth than the radio crackles to life, the first little red light Zone 1 flashing.

Dr. Death passes the mic to Party Poison.

The lines to the Zone leaders are secure so the red-haired Killjoy speaks with confidence, "Party Poison here. That you Tiger?"

There is a brief moment of silence and then…

"Tiger Triggerpull reporting for duty, bright and early on this hot, hot day. One-oh-nine in the sky my ass, it must be at least a hundred and thirty."

Dr. Death chuckles from where he sits, saying loudly, "If you got any complaints with the weather service I suggest you take it up with Hot Chimp. He's the one who sends on the weather reading from his ol' thermometer here every morning."

"That monkey in Zone 3 doesn't know how to read numbers then. Or his equipment's faulty. Can't confirm at this point I'm afraid. Sorry 'bout not answerin' earlier. Some of these damn lines are going haywire on me."

Party takes the chance to speak up, "You sounded a little worried in your message. Everything all right over there?"

"Yeah, things are all right. These line problems are what's worrying me. I lost contact a couple of days ago with a group of my Killjoys."

Everyone suddenly tenses. "You didn't mention that in your letter."

"Didn't want to worry ya'll over there. You have your hands full with Zone 6 and the rest of the Zones. They're back now though but the electronics guy I had has busted up his leg pretty good. I'm useless when it comes to figuring out what's wrong with my lines. None of others can figure out what's wrong either. I was wondering if you'd be able to lend me your Fun Ghoul. I'll treat him nice, I promise."

Laughs burst out across the room as Fun Ghoul takes the communicator from Party's hands,

"I'm in high demand. What've you got to offer me?"

"Ghoul! I thought we had something special, sugar! Now you're charging me?"

"You bet your ass I am. These skills don't come cheap. I think I'll take your Tiger mascot mask. It'll match Party's MouseKat."

"Are you gonna wear it? Sure you won't get lost in it? It's meant for a fully grown man after all!"

The laughter in the room grows and even Show Pony is snickering loudly.

Fun Ghoul is about to utter some choice words when Party re-takes the communicator, trying hard to stifle his amusement as he speaks to the Zone leader on the line,

"All right. We'll be there in a few days. Just hang tight and try to contact Dr. Death as often as you can."

"Good to hear Poison. Over and out?"

"Over and out."


"Look alive, sunshine! One-oh-nine in the sky but the pigs won't quit! You're here with me, Dr. Death Defying. I'll be your surgeon, your proctor, your helicopter, pumping out the slaughtermatic sounds to keep you alive! A system failure for the masses, anti-matter for the master plan! Louder than God's revolver and twice as shiny, this one's for all you rock 'n' rollers, all you crash queens and motor babies, listen up! The future is bulletproof. The aftermath is secondary. It's time to do it now and do it loud! Killjoys, make some noise!"

Dr. Death Defying puts the communicator down and transitions smoothly to a loud and fast-paced song.

"You having fun there Dr. D?" Fun Ghoul asks with a smirk, adjusting his aviator sunglasses.

"Well sure. I do my thing and you do yours Ghoul. Now where is Show Pony? I told that boy to be here early and– Show Pony!"

The tall man came in roller-skating, stopping right before Dr. Death's wheelchair.

"Zones are clear this morning. No one reporting any Drac sightings and there's no signs of any approaching storms."

"That's great news," Jet Start comments, seeing that Party is too busy adjusting his pants to respond.

"Bro. Get some bigger pants."

"Sorry Kobra," Party smirks at his brother, "I don't take style advice from gigolos."

Fun Ghoul laughs heartily as Kobra scowls.

"What's a gigolo?"

"Nothing you need to know right now, Missile." Jet Star says quickly, "Why don't you come with me and help me get breakfast started?"

"Chef Jet Star! I'll take some eggs, sunny side up and your finest coffee…and some pancakes."

Fun Ghoul has to dodge the cleaning rag that Jet Star throws at his head.

"The menu for today is, as always, Power Pup. You're welcome to try another diner if you like," The taller man's afro shakes a little as he walks away laughing, pushing a giggling Grace out of the room.

Fun Ghoul frowns as he places his green raygun in its holster.

"I can never get anything around here."


They're sure that not even the dogs the Power Pup is meant for would eat the crap but still, they're all hungry and they eat ravenously.

Grace reaches for a can of Power Pup but Party stops her, giving her another can.

"Party, this is for babies!"

"No it's not. It might have the picture of a baby on the label but it's meant for everyone."

"I'll take it," Fun Ghoul offers, only to have Party glare at him.

"You need your milk Missile Kid. You're still a growing Killjoy," Jet Star tries.

"'Sides, we went through all that trouble just to find that stash of cans. You wouldn't waste our work like that would you?"

Kobra Kid's argument quiets the young girl and Grace squeezes onto the booth next to Fun Ghoul, taking the can opener in the middle of the table to unfasten the lid off the can of evaporated milk.

Party Poison sends a look of thanks his brother's way and the blond Killjoy acknowledges it with a smile.


"I call shotgun!" Grace practically squeals as she runs to the Trans AM.

Party and Ghoul take one look at each as they step outside and suddenly it's a race.

Kobra Kid and Jet Star watch with amusement and walk calmly to the back of the car as Party and Ghoul, having reached the driver's door within seconds of each other, try to latch on to the door handle while fighting the other off.

"Executive decision says that I am driving today," Party growls, giving Ghoul a good shove.

"Legislative and judicial decision says that you always drive and that it's my turn." Ghoul returns calmly, elbowing Party in the side without thinking.

Party hisses barely perceptible but Ghoul catches it, and immediately backs off. They stand there awkwardly for a few seconds, sharing a meaningful look.

Party knows that Ghoul knows what happened on the day they almost lost Grace.

It's been a little over a week since Party got rid of the bandages but Ghoul knows from personal experience that the ribs will be tender for a good while.

"I will concede to your executive decision for now and veto later," Ghoul offers, smiling and giving them a chance to return to the day's early jovial mood.

Party takes it immediately and winks at him.

"I'll see if I feel like accepting your veto later."

With that, Party slides into the driver's seat and Ghoul moves to the back to find Jet Star sitting inside and Kobra Kid standing by the door, a grin on his usually stoic face.

Ghoul knows that look.

"Oh no, no, no! You are mistaken, my friend, if you think I'm going in the middle."

"You're smaller."

"You're skinnier. Like a twig."

"Doesn't matter. Either get in now or you'll have to climb over my lap to get to the middle."

Ghoul is about to appeal to Party to control his brother but the red-haired man is chuckling softly, muttering something about them to Missile Kid.

"Fine. But if it gets too hot we're opening the sun roof and I'm standing on your lap."

"Whatever you say, little man!"

"Why you little motherfu–"

"Language!" Grace yells back, and Fun Ghoul settles for giving Kobra Kid his nastiest of looks as he gets into the Trans AM.

"I'll get you later Kobra. Better watch your back."

Kobra Kid decides that he doesn't like the glint of mischief in Fun Ghoul's eyes.


Grace yells in delight as she hangs out of the window of the Trans AM.

Her seatbelt is firmly in place but Party can't help but shoot her looks every so often, making sure that she won't fall out and meet the concrete of Route Guano anytime soon.

Ghoul sulks in the back and Jet Star is looking out the window, bobbing his head (and afro) to MGMK but Kobra Kid is fast asleep, despite the loud music blasting in the car.

They have been driving for an hour and Kobra had had the watch last night.

Party Poison returns his eyes to the road and once more fights the feeling of apprehension out his chest.


"I did what you asked! Now tell me where my men are!"

Korse glares at the Killjoy before him, not without some enjoyment at the man's helplessness.

"You zone rats have no manners do you? You're supposed to ask me nicely."

The Killjoy launches out of his seat and lunges for Korse but his Draculoids hold the man back, delivering solid punches to his middle to get him under control.

"You are too proud 'Tiger Triggerpull'" Korse spits the name out with disgust. He'd never understand the names the rebels used to identify one another.

"And you are one annoying little fucker," Triggerpull returns, spitting blood and saliva at the Exterminator.

If there is one thing Korse hates more than a zone rat stepping out of line or speaking out of turn, it is getting spit upon by the worthless animals.

He doesn't hold back any of his medically enhanced strength as he backhands the rebel.

Triggerpull's head slams to the side and his vision swims as Korse continues to talk.

"This hideout was smart, I'll give you that. Wouldn't have guessed that anything this big was left standing but I guess you've been running around Zone 1 long enough to have found this motel haven't you?"

The Killjoy doesn't answer.

"Come now, I just paid you a compliment. It would only be polite to acknowledge it."

"You can take you fucking compliment and shove it up your ass."

Another backhand and Tiger Triggerpull remains standing only through the support of the Draculoids holding him.

He's weak, he knows it. He hasn't been able to eat and keep anything down since he called Dr. Death Defying and the Fabulous Killjoys, even when Korse threatened him.

He knows that he's reached the end of his usefulness.

And that he's betrayed the very people he was supposed to protect and keep safe and that shame burns in his chest worse than anything Korse could ever do to him.

They'd all taken that vow, him and the other Zone leaders, when Party Poison had been at the edge of death for the first time.

They'd sworn allegiance to him, to the Fabulous Killjoys and most importantly, to the cause that the four men believed in so resolutely.

But there was still hope.

"What will I do with you now, Killjoy?"

"Look at all the fucks I give."

"Oh but you do care," Korse drawls out, calling over a Draculoid.

The drone responds quickly and hands something to his commander.

Korse takes the wrapped object and slowly peels back the white, BL/Ind. covering.

The large hunting knife glints ominously.

"Do you know what this does?"

Tiger Triggerpull holds the evil man's gaze.

"Why don't you stab yourself with it and demonstrate?"

Korse's laugh rings with sick glee. "Oh but that is what you are for, my dear little zone rat. I'll see how much you scream when the chemicals on this blade burn your flesh…unless you tell me where they went."

"What are you talking about?"

"The little group that you sent out when you saw that we were nearby."

"You're fucking crazy. You have all my Killjoys."

Without warning, Korse's hand shot out and sliced deep into the Killjoy's left arm.

Tiger Triggerpull couldn't contain the scream that clawed at his throat.

"Just tell me, Killjoy. Just tell me and it will all end."

"Fuck…you!"

He spits at Korse again.


"We'll stop here for a few minutes," Party says as he pulls over the car. They've just made it to the edge of Zone 6 but they need to eat and try to contact Dr. Death Defying.

Jet Star brings out the small suitcase that carries the portable communicator while Fun Ghoul and Kobra Kid secure the area.

Party leaves his yellow mask in the car in favor for his red and black checkered scarf.

He wakes Missile Kid gently and tells her that it's a pit stop and she should get out and stretch her legs.

The energetic little girl gets out in an instant, running to help Jet Star, who is now retrieving the cans of Power Pup.

Once they feel nothing will jump out of the bushes and get them, they all sit down to eat.

Party takes a few bites out of his Power Pup before he pulls out the map of the Zones and tries to communicate with Dr. Death.

Within minutes, his forehead creases in thinly veiled frustration.

"Not getting through?" Ghoul asks, taking the last bits of dog food from his Power Pup can and chucking them somewhere.

"No."

"Let me try" Party Poison is in the process of handing over the communicator radio when he spots something coming closer.

He's alert in an instant, on his feet in seconds as he pulls up his scarf, pulling down his goggles when he lights the fire signal for light.

The others tense and stand immediately, staying behind him to cover his back.

Misslie Kid, frightened, latches on to the closest person and Kobra Kid pats her arm reassuringly.

The something comes closer and as soon as Party Poison verifies that it is indeed a Draculoid he shoots it without further thought.

The raygun fire feels much too loud in the quiet desert but it ends there.

Making sure that no other Draculoid is around, Jet Star immediately grabs the communicator box and stashes it in the trunk as Fun Ghoul kicks dirt into the fire to extinguish it.

Missile Kid is already in the car.

Party startles a little when he feels his brother place his hand on his shoulder.

"It was just a stray Drac Party. We should get going."

Party nods at him and gets in the Trans AM.

The feeling of wrongness will not leave him.


They stop for gas along the way.

Yet again, they make sure Missile Kid waits in the car.

The attendant at the Dead Pegasus Gas Station eyes them wearily.

"I don't want any trouble."

"Neither do we," Party speaks up, placing a handful of Carbons on the counter before going back outside.

The attendant slips the money in his pocket.

"Full tank it is."


"Whatcha reading?"

Missile Kid has somehow escaped from the Trans AM and Kobra Kid quickly closes the "Murder" magazine setting it aside.

His blush is deep, almost the color of his brother's hair.

Fun Ghoul snickers as he looks up from the battery he's been working on.

He gives Kobra a smile and a wink.

"Wait until I tell Party!" He says in a singsong voice.

"Tell him what?" Kobra asks, glaring, but he cannot hide the slight tremor in his voice.

"That you've been corrupting not only your own mind but that of an innocent child."

"She didn't see anything."

"Look again Einstein."

Kobra Kid whips around, aghast at the fact that Missile Kid has somehow picked up the magazine and is now flipping through it with increasingly wide eyes and mouth.

"Oh crap," Kobra stutters, taking the magazine from her hands and pulling her behind the car.

Fun Ghoul's laughter has not stopped.

"Oh crap, crap, crap…Don't tell Party okay? This is our secret yeah?"

Missile Kid looks at him and her smile is coy.

"Okay…but you know I can't lie to Party that well."

Kobra Kid is desperate.

"What do you want?"

Missile Kid has now crossed her arms,

"I wanna play with your bass,"

"Deal as long as you don't break anything."

"And I want your sunglasses."

The blond Killjoys pauses for a moment and then he reaches up to his head, getting his sunglasses and dropping them into Missile Kid's hands.

"Anything else?"

"Nope. Thanks Kobra!"

Missile Kid runs off and Kobra Kid sighs in relief.

Crisis averted.


"He just gave them to you?"

"Yup. Just like that. Didn't even say I was asking for too much."

Fun Ghoul snickers again as he takes the sunglasses from Missile's outstretched hands.

These are much better than his own so he takes them and tries them on for size.

They fit perfectly.

"Nice! Here you go," Fun Ghoul reaches into his vest's pocket and pulls out a full and untarnished pack of gum, "Now go back to the car, you little con. Or Party'll come out and see you and then we'll be in real trouble."

"Pleasure doing business with you," Missile Kid grins, taking out a piece of the strawberry flavored candy and sticking it in her mouth as she runs back to the Trans AM.

Ghoul just stares after her, feeling warm pride.

"Do I even want to know what you two did to Kobra now?" Jet Star asks with a raised eyebrow.

"Just carry on with your own business Jet."


"I have a bad feeling about this Party," Kobra Kid mutters softly, as they park the car a few feet away from the entrance to the motel complex that comprises the Zone 1 headquarters.

"They'd have come out to greet us by now. Or given us a signal or something."

"Did Dr. Death ever get a hold of Triggerpull?"

"No," Jet Star shakes his head, "He's been trying since we left. Nothing."

Party's jaw works.

"We have to know what's going on…Ghoul, you come with me. We'll go and check the place out. Kobra and Jet, you stay with the car and Missile."

No one protests his orders, though Kobra Kid looks close.

Missile Kid snags his arm before he leaves the car. She checks on the teal-beaded rosary-turned-bracelet that she'd given him, making sure that it is tight around his wrist.

Warmth fills each of them at the action.


Against their better judgment, they split up.

It will be faster that way, they'll cover more ground, and they do want to get out of there as fast as possible. He takes the motel itself while Ghoul sets to searching the courtyard.

The entrance to the complex is unlocked. The hallways of the motel are eerily quiet.

Party had only visited this place once, to check up on the Killjoy that'd had been voted Zone leader, the naming of which he'd approved.

Tiger Triggerpull may not have been a close friend, unlike most of the other Zone leaders, but he'd carried out his duties with efficiency and organization in the four years that he'd held the position.

A sudden, horrible smell catches Party by surprise and he fights his gag reflex as he enters the room where the odor comes from.

The sight that meets his eyes has him gagging again, but not because of the stench.

Tiger Triggerpull is laid out on the bed, tiger mascot mask on. Some of the stuffing of the mask lies around the pillow and the bedcovers and there are deep gashes all over the Killjoy's chest and arms.

He's seen death, much too many times, but it looks like the man has been mauled by a wild animal and Party Poison feels the cry of alarm rising in his throat.

It's a trap. It's a trap and we have to get the fuck out of here.

He doesn't get the chance.

He catches the slight sound too late, too late above the blood that rushes in his ears, and he turns to face the window of the motel room, to try to blow it out if he can and warn Ghoul.

Korse is faster.

Within seconds, the Exterminator's large, cold and cruel hands are around his head, fingers digging into his scalp.

Korse is taller, and he glares down at him, mouth open in a hungry and angry snarl.

His gloved hands immediately go up, wrapping around Korse's wrists, trying desperately to dislodge the man's painful grip.

The lace of Korse's shirt is coarse under his fingers and he feels himself start to relax in Korse's hands.

It is unnatural, oh so unnatural and Party fights the fear that rises in his chest at the fact that he cannot pull or push the taller and stronger man machine, away from him.

"We meet again Party Poison,"

The bastard leans forward then, close enough to whisper in his ear,

"And I've come to take her from you."


The three Dracs are pinning him to the ground, trying to get his arms behind his back no doubt to cuff him and render him immobile.

There's dirt in his mouth from being shoved into the earth but he fights with all his strength and bucks, twisting his body as the resistance gives way, landing a left hook on one Draculoid's masked face.

He has no time to deal with them.

He'd gone outside the motel complex to inspect a noise and now he realizes his mistake.

He's left Party all alone.

Fun Ghoul runs as fast as he can, tearing through the empty hallways.

Fuck, oh shit, I'm so sorry Party.


Just when the pain in his temples is about to reach its crescendo, Party feels the pressure ease completely.

His eyes open to see Korse against the wall, being pinned by Fun Ghoul.

Korse easily shoves the smaller man away and Ghoul's loss of balance forces his landing on the bed, right on top of the dead Killjoy.

Ghoul panics at the feel of flesh beneath him he hadn't had time to investigate the reeking odor that had led him to find his friend.

Party picks up his raygun from the floor and aims and shoots, hitting Korse directly in the chest.

Where his heart should have been.

Korse is dazed by the blow but Party would be incredibly naïve to think that he will stay that way for long.

He helps Ghoul untangle himself from the corpse and together they run for the Trans AM.


Kobra Kid and Jet Star are not prepared to see Fun Ghoul and Party Poison run out of the motel.

Both men look frazzled and terror clouds their eyes as they approach the Trans AM at full running speed.

The two Killjoys move quickly.

Kobra Kid pushes Missile Kid down onto the floor of the car, telling her to take cover and he stands on the car's back seat, upper body sticking out of the car's open sunroof.

Jet Star takes the front seat and sticks his raygun out the window.

As soon as they're close enough, Party throws himself at the door, sliding in quickly and starting the car.

Fun Ghoul takes the back seat and Party drives off like a maniac.

For a moment, there's nothing but silence behind them and then…

It's Korse's black car, followed closely by two Draculoids on motorbikes.

"Fuck!"

Kobra takes aim and tries a shot on one of the motorbikes but they are too far away.

Though that distance is closing fast.

"We can't lead them to Dr. Death and Show Pony," Jet Star observes solemnly.

"Try to contact Dr. Death and warn him," Party says in response, as he does the math in his head,

About an hour until they reach Route Guano. From there, around five to six hours until they reach the edge of Zone , an hour and a half to reach the Diner.

And at the rate that they're burning the fuel…

"We'll never make it to the Diner. Not without stopping for fuel. We have to get rid of them."

"On it," Fun Ghoul says, asking Missile to move. Once she's out of the way, he reaches under the back seats and pulls out…

"You really kept that under there?" Kobra Kid asks with wide eyes, ducking once so that Fun Ghoul can take the homemade bazooka out on the sunroof.

"Yup. Comes in handy doesn't it? Hey Missile, you wanna help?"

The small girl jumps at the opportunity.

Party Poison is too busy trying to handle the speed that he's forcing the Trans AM to endure to reprimand Fun Ghoul for placing Missile in danger.

Kobra doesn't want to be the one to call Ghoul out on it so he remains quiet.

Fun Ghoul helps Missile Kid grip the bazooka and aim.

They only have three shots, so they have to make them count.

They take out one of the motorbikes, and watch with satisfaction as Korse's car veers off the road slightly in order to avoid the wreckage.

Ghoul is about to help Missile aim for the other motorbike when he spots the Draculoids in the cliffs and mountains around them.

He helps Missile's small hands maneuver the bazooka to the left.

One pull of the trigger and the Draculoid flies up into the air and lands, motionless.

Despite everything, Ghoul pats Missile on the back and she cheers no longer feeling useless, like a liability. It's empowering to finally be able to help and her chest swells with sincere thanks towards Fun Ghoul.

He seems to understand what he's done, what he's given her, so for the next shot he lets go, lets her handle the weapon completely.

The trust in the action is implicit and she will not fail him she will not fail them.

She steadies her arm, her finger on the trigger.

The Draculoid on the motorbike senses that she's aiming for him and he tries to swerve to avoid her.

Missile Kid gets him anyway.

"You're starting to earn your name," Fun Ghoul grins, giving her a high five.

Party's shout desperate and grating brings them both crashing back to reality.


"Hold on!"

He's aware of the panic he's let slip into his voice for only a few seconds before he slams the brakes.

The bastards have placed a strip of spikes on the ground, the kind meant to deter getaways and Party's pushed the Trans AM too fast to be able to veer off and avoid them.

Physics carries the Trans AM forward, stronger than the brakes, and the car stumbles over the object.

For a moment it seems they've cleared it.

But Party knows his car, knows how it handles better than anyone and he can feel the loss of traction, the loss of power and knows with a sinking feeling that the tires are slashed.

Smoke billows up around the stopped car, mixing with the dust that the vehicle has kicked up.

Party immediately pulls on his yellow mask and turns around to check on everyone.

They don't need to be told what to do.

Fun Ghoul pulls on his Frankenstein mask and exits quickly, pulling Missile Kid with him.

Kobra Kid and Jet Star move just as rapidly and they regroup outside, taking cover behind the Trans AM.

It's still too dusty to see anything clearly.

"You need to get her out here," Party says, chest heaving, as he swift pushes Missile Kid into Jet Star.

Jet Star takes her into his arms, nodding once before they start off.

Missile Kid is crying, she doesn't want to leave them behind, and she fights against him even more when the sound of raygun fire starts up behind them.

But Jet Star doesn't get far.

He can the Draculoids ahead, coming right at him.

They're trapped.

They've been cornered and his heart sinks.


They fight ferociously.

Kobra Kid hasn't been practicing his martial arts with the leader of Zone 7 for nothing and he lashes out with those skills when his raygun is ripped out of his hand.

The Draculoid he's kicked in the leg falls with a grunt and his partner is momentarily distracted enough for Kobra to land a solid punch to his face.

But there are more, too many, and he feels himself getting tired and winded.

Shit.


What is it with these fucking bastards and pinning me to the ground? Fun Ghoul asks himself, bucking and trying to twist out of the grip two Draculoids have him.

Their grips on him are solid, unshakable, and one of them delivers a strong set of kicks to his leg.

He screams in a combination of pain and frustration at being so vulnerable.

Jet Star hears him.

He's lost sight of Missile Kid somewhere in the fray but he cannot ignore his friend's yell of distress.

Party is too far away and Kobra is getting overwhelmed.

He aims for the Draculoid kicking his friend and shoots, hitting his target.

Fun Ghoul feels the loss of one set of hands and he takes his opportunity, pushing against the ground and successfully dislodging the Draculoids' grip on his arms.

He stands just in time to see a Draculoid coming for Jet Star.

He yells a warning, and Jet Star turns...

The bottle the Draculoid holds catches the Killjoy on the left side of the face.

All Fun Ghoul can hear is the sound of breaking glass as his world goes red.

He finds his green raygun on the floor easily and shoots one of the two Draculoids behind him.

He turns to see that Jet Star has fallen and is clutching at his head.

His blood runs cold when he sees the ruby red that drips from between the taller man's fingers.

And the Draculoids do not stop. They surround the fallen Killjoy like vultures, lashing out with their boots.

Fun Ghoul moves with purpose, trying to clear a path straight to Jet Star, who is lying on the ground still, unmoving.

Fear spreads throughout him and his throat itches with the call for help but whom would he ask? Kobra is overwhelmed. And Party…Party is surrounded by Dracs and Korse, Missile Kid behind him.


Kobra Kid sees what is happening. He uses his Powerglove, pushing it against a Draculoid's throat and pressing the buttons at the wrist that turn on the current.

The Draculoid shakes, Kobra feels the pulse of electricity through the cloth, and finally the drone falls to the ground, dead.

He tries to go to his brother, blocking a high punch that leaves his middle unprotected, enough for the Draculoid to slice at his stomach with a broken-edged bottle.

Pain flares on his belly, hot and fast, throbbing as he looks and sees the red seep through and stain the yellow and black of his shirt.

His legs lose their strength, his knees meet the ground and the Draculoid steps closer, brandishing the bottle with a ferocity Kobra's never seen in the drones before.

Fun Ghoul saves him, and the last thing Kobra Kid is conscious of is the black-haired Killjoy slamming the Draculoid to the ground.


Fun Ghoul is painfully aware of the fact that he and Party are the last ones left standing.

An outraged scream stops him as he moves to check on Kobra Kid, whose blood is slowly coloring the dust.

They've wrenched Missile Kid from Party's arms but the red-haired leader is fighting with all that he's got.

He manages to get Missile back, manages to almost clear a path through the circle of Draculoids.

It's all he sees however.

Something connects with the back of his head, a sting that seems to travel straight to his brain and Fun Ghoul plunges into merciful black.

Party screams like a feral creature and Missile Kid winces at the sound, more so because the hands on her arms, the wrong hands, the cold ones that want to take her finally succeed in pulling her away.

But Party Poison will not give up or give in so with a yell of outrage that they would dare to take her take her from him he drops to a crouch and manages to take her into his arms before the Draculoid can pick her up. He's ready to stand, to clear a path through the Dracs that have encircled them when one of the drones and Party has suspicions, because the Draculoids have never been this bloodthirsty before aims a charged kick at the child in his arms.

Ever the fierce protector and Party turns swiftly, blocking the blow with his curled body and still he does not let go of his charge, does not drop her, even when the Drac delivers another solid kick to his left side.

Korse yells for his subordinate to stop,

"You might injure the girl!"

But the drone finishes the motion, stops only after he's kicked him again and Party feels something give way as fire licks through his left side and he cannot stop the groan that forces its way past his lips.

Missile Kid screams in his arms, the sound hurts his ears, tears at his chest and she hugs him closer, stricken and frightened, asking him desperately if he is okay.

He tries to reply, but Korse looms above them now, and he leans down, tangling and pulling a hand through Party's crimson hair.

"I told you that I would take her from you, Party Poison…you've failed."

The Exterminator's grin is ferociously content as he drops his hand to the left side of the Killjoy's torso, splaying out his long fingers as he pushes, squeezing harshly when he feels bones below his hand shift slightly and yield to his strength.

Party keens low in his throat, his eyesight blurs, but he does not let go of Missile Kid, who has gone quiet in his arms, supporting him, her small hands around his neck helping him endure a reminder of everything that he's terrified to lose.

"Enough with this game," Korse growls, impatient.

The Exterminator rises to his full height and calmly, coldly, presses his raygun to the Killjoy's head.

"You best come with me, girl. Or I'll pull you away from his dead body once I blow his brains out."

Missile Kid shivers violently in his arms and Party holds onto her.

"Don't listen to him, sweetheart."

Korse's raygun does not waver, and he cocks the weapon.

"I'll give you to the count of seven."

Missile Kid doesn't take the chance.

Party feels her fighting against his hold, feels her small hands untangling from his neck and she starts to move.

Two Draculoids surge forward and begin to pull her away again, only this time, Missile Kid does not fight back.

He tries God he tries to keep his hold on her, but Korse's raygun has slipped down, down to his side and the bastard is pushing the weapon against the too-tender flesh.

Black dances across his vision, and he feels himself slip to the ground, and the next thing he knows he's on his back, eyes fluttering open to reveal the sight that makes his breath catch and his heart stop.

Korse is standing not far away, stoic but the pleasure that shines in his black eyes makes Party's stomach churn.

And he looks to Korse's right, where a Draculoid is shaking Missile Kid's boom box, before determining it useless and dropping it to the ground.

The Draculoid in the middle however, that bastard, the son of a bitch, is holding Grace.

And the fact that the Exterminator is no longer holding his white raygun to Party's head ignites the will to fight in her again.

This time, she is at least surer that her struggles will not end immediately in the death of one of her heroes, so she kicks against the drone's legs.

Party's vision begins to swim again and he fights the pull of the shadows with waning strength.

"Keep running," Korse growls twisting the Killjoy's motto into something that accuses them all of cowardice.

The last thing his hazel eyes see is Grace being carried away.

And then the pain in his side is nothing nothing against the shattering anguish in his heart.


Fun Ghoul awakes to throbbing in his head, enough to make him close his eyes against the fading glare of the setting sun.

He sits slowly, and looks at the carnage before his eyes with increasing awareness of what's transpired.

Thankfully so he doesn't have to deal with this alone, Jet Star is also coming to, though the other man still holds his hand against the left side of his face, which is painted by dried blood.

Ghoul scrambles to a standing position, going immediately to the Trans AM.

They need help and they need it fast.

Missile Kid's absence doesn't escape his consciousness, but he pushes that acknowledgement away.

It hurts too damn much.


"These aren't simple Draculoids," Dr Death Defying whispers to him, his mustached mouth frowning.

Fun Ghoul gives him a look before gazing back to the van, where Party Poison is helping Kobra Kid get in while Show Pony guides Jet Star.

"What do you mean?"

Dr. Death pulls the white glove off a dead Drac's left hand, revealing the barcode that has been tattooed on the flesh.

"This is a standard Drac mark. Nothing special."

The pirate radio DJ then moves to another body, not far away, and pulls off both white gloves, revealing a set of different tattoos.

S#675 on both.

Before Ghoul can say anything, Dr. Death pulls back the edge of the Drac's mask, baring its throat.

The same letter and number of the tattoo have been branded onto the drone's neck, similar in position to Ghoul's own scorpion tattoo.

Ghoul touches his tattoo, wincing in sympathy that must have hurt like a son of a bitch, as his lip curls in outrage for what BL/Ind. does even to its employees.

"He had Scarecrows disguised as Dracs attack you…It wasn't bad luck. It was premeditated, and with time too…I don't want to be accusing anyone of anything but–"

"Tiger Triggerpull was tortured," A voice behind them says, and both men turn around to stare at Party Poison, "His camp was empty."

The Doctor's eyes fill with just the slightest hint of fear, "His Killjoys?"

"I didn't see any. Triggerpull must have been dead for a day at least. I don't know. It's hard to tell with this heat."

Party Poison looks away before turning back to them, withdrawing something bloody and dirty but unmistakably yellow from his pocket.

"I had just enough time to pull this from him."

Their bandanas and masks work like dog tags, as identifiers. He's yet to see any two Killjoys with the exact same design.

But this bandana is slightly different, and it means a little more.

Party has one tied around his left calf, just above his boot.

Dr. Death opens the wrinkled cloth and holds it out to the sun.

The light filters through the carefully made and stitched cutouts in the middle of the fabric, making a small though clear pattern on the ground.

1

T.T.

"What do you want to do Party?"

"We have to contact the other Zones. Warn their leaders to be on the lookout."

Dr. Death hesitates for a moment…

"And…Missile?"

Party doesn't answer as he walks away.


"Hold still, Kobra."

Kobra Kid stills as Dr. Death Defying cleans away the blood on his stomach.

The blond Killjoy's hand clench the fabric of his shirt, which he's holding up, when the sting of the antiseptic burns.

Jet Star sits not too far away, also trying to be as still as possible as Show Pony slowly and gently tries to pick bits of glass from his left upper cheek.

The roller-skater will not touch the tiny sliver however small, that's much, much too close to the Killjoy's eye.

Fun Ghoul watches what's happening from behind Dr. Death, trying to be useful but mostly just coming across as hovering and worried.

Party Poison's tap on the shoulder makes him jump.

Party has not talked much, not after he'd explained what had happened, in too accurate detail, when Dr. Death Defying and Show Pony showed up in the white van.

There's a look in his friend's hazel eyes that strikes Fun Ghoul as vaguely familiar. Though it is a familiarity that reeks of misery, something that Ghoul would rather remain in the recesses of his memory.

"I need your help with something, Ghoul."

He opens his mouth to protest. Surely Dr. Death and Show Pony will need something.

But he closes it again when something like a wince crosses his friend's face.

Between Kobra's and Jet's injuries and Missile Kid's forced disappearance he realizes that besides those obviously wounded, no more than quick questions about well being have been asked of him and Party.

Ghoul looks back to see that Kobra is trying to crane his neck above Dr. Death's broad shoulders to see what is going. A gruff order to settle down from Dr. Death draws his attention away and Ghoul finally follows Party.

The red-haired Killjoy takes Ghoul into his room and Ghoul tries to not let his surprise show. Party's never allowed anyone in here.

With the sole exception of Grace.

"What do you need Party?" He asks, distracted by the drawings, breathtakingly beautiful that seem to line the walls of the room, only dimly aware of the click of the closing door.

A few, colorful and clearly drawn by a child Grace tug at his heart and make him look away.

He has some of them in his own room and knows for a fact that the others, even Show Pony and Dr. Death, also have Grace's drawings on their walls.

Party stands there, unsure.

And then his hands reach to the zipper of his jacket, and he slips the clothing off his shoulders.

He takes off his shirt in just as fluid a motion and Ghoul fights to contain the gasp of surprise as he looks upon the livid purple that lines Party's left side.

"Party, what–Dr. Death–"

"–Is busy enough with Kobra and Jet…I just need your help wrapping it up."

"Party–"

"Ghoul, are you going to help me or not?"

There's a tired edge to the Killjoy's voice that makes Ghoul flinch.

"Yeah... Where are the bandages?"

Party points to his desk's drawer and Ghoul retrieves the item and quickly sets to wrap his friend's chest.

Dr. Death can only distract the younger brother for so long and by Party's actions Ghoul can tell that the red-haired Killjoy wants to keep this quiet.

Just like last time he can't help but think and suddenly it dawns on him, dawns on him in recognition so strong he cannot deny it because Party has just healed from his last secret injury, so he presses a gentle touch to Party's side, experimental and he feels it, feels the hot and tight flesh beneath his hand, where he knows no hardness should be.

They can get medicine most of the time to treat infection. They can bandage up a sprain, splint a break, suture a cut.

But they're totally and completely fucked when it comes to internally and Fun Ghoul feels his heart hammer against his chest.

No, no, no, no…

"Party, this–"

"I know Ghoul."

"Fuck, Party! This isn't–"

"We need to get Grace back."

Fun Ghoul freezes, he stops and he looks up, looks into Party's eyes and a horrible sense of déjà vu overwhelms him.

He finally remembers when he's seen this look before, this look so hollow and exhausted, so pained and lost, lost so lost in distress. Empty and desperate.

Practically lifeless.

He hasn't seen this looks in a little over three years, when they'd found Party Poison in the BL/Ind. holding center, hair cut cruelly and pumped so full of drugs he didn't even notice them carrying his limp body outside to be examined by Dr. Death Defying.

He finishes wrapping his friend's chest and Party thanks him with a wordless nod, moving to his desk.

He takes a key from his dropped jacket and opens the locked third drawer.

For a moment, his back obscures whatever it is he's withdrawn from Ghoul's prying eyes.

But when he turns around, BL/Ind. pill bottle in hand, Ghoul crosses the room in two strides, asking Party in a tight voice to hand it over.

Because the last time Party had had the bottle in his hand was right after they'd rescued him from Isoda, when Ghoul had found him one night, half the pills in his hand, wondering out loud what it would be like to feel nothing.

"Party, give them to me."

"I can't Ghoul."

"Party–"

"Just one Ghoul. To take the edge off. I need to be alert. I need to be focused. This'll help."

"You need to take it easy and rest."

"I need to get her back!"

The two men can only stare at each other after Party's outburst.

Party holds his gaze, and the void in his eyes has been banished, replaced with anger and pulsing determination, and Fun Ghoul feels the hope re-ignite in his chest.

"I promised her Ghoul...I promised her that I wouldn't let them hurt her... I promised her that she'd see the ocean one day."

Party looks to the biggest drawing on his wall and Ghoul inspects it closer.

For each of them she usually draws battle scenes, or scenes of them all at the Diner, or playing or sleeping. The little mundane events that make the harder passages in their lives bearable.

But this drawing...

This drawing has them all on a beach, stick figured legs knee-deep in the blue waves of an ocean.

"She drew it from one of her postcards."

Fun Ghoul takes one last look at the drawing.

Because Party's made them all promises, and kept them.

He's gone without for them, kept his promises with his sweat, and tears and blood.

And, Fun Ghoul thinks, its about time that he make a promise of his own.

"We'll get her back Party. No matter what, we'll get her back."


Next up, PART II AND THEN WE WILL HAVE REACHED THE END OF THIS STORY!

And then...THE SEQUEL :)

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