PS, new release tomorrow! July is my busy month, I've got...well, nothing else firmly planned to come out until next year.
Title: Redstone Chapter 6, Part 2
Getting into the Regen tank at last was a welcome relief. The device closed over Kyle like a cocoon, his body sank into the gel pads and his headrest tilted back to partially submerge him in fluids. Kyle shut his eyes and let the machine do its work, the familiar sound comforting. The liquid was warm on his skin, soaking evenly through the thin cloth of his prison garb, and as his headache and nausea began to recede a little of Kyle’s optimism started to come back. So he might be without mods, but he wasn’t helpless. He didn’t have to be able to do everything at the level of expertise he’d displayed before; he just had to be better than the competition. He could manage that. He could.
Kyle’s reverie was abruptly disrupted by the manual override of the Regen tank. He opened his eyes to see a guard in black body armor, face mask down, push back the top of the tank. The guard reached in, grabbed Kyle around the upper arm and hauled him out of the regenic fluid before he could do more than gasp in protest.
“What are you doing?” Kyle demanded once he was on his feet. He tried to turn and look at the guard, but whoever it was swiftly bent Kyle’s arm and wrenched it high behind him, arching him on his toes. This person’s mods were obviously working perfectly—every move Kyle tried was countered immediately.
“Where’s the doctor?” he asked as the guard marched him out of the med unit and down a sterile gray corridor with inset red and yellow lights. Kyle felt like he was walking down the trachea of some immense beast, and the red and black barred door at the end of the hall was the entry to its tumultuous gut. Kyle pressed back as hard as he could without dislocating his own shoulder. “I was supposed to have a meeting with my lawyer first—I haven’t even finished the Regen treatment!”
The guard smacked a red button on the side of the door. The camera above it scanned both of them for a moment, and then the door began to open. The light inside whatever was beyond the corridor was bright, too bright for Kyle to make out much of the room ahead of him.
The guard jerked Kyle close for a split second. “The inmates like it when new arrivals come in wet and ready,” the metallic voice hissed. “Just think, with Regen for lube you might not even tear too badly. The first few times, that is.” Then the guard shoved Kyle into the light, the door closing with a resounding clang behind him.
Kyle’s eyes adjusted after a moment. He was still in a corridor, but a very short one, leading to a large room that seemed to be full of people milling around a wide, square door. The corridor wasn’t empty, though. Three people had laid claim to it, and before he knew what was happening one of them had grabbed him and shoved him against the small exit he’d just been ejected from.
“Knew if we played the odds, someone’d come in through here eventually,” the man—or person, rather, he looked like he’d lost so many mods coming in here that all that was holding his face together was scar tissue and raw sinew—holding him by his collar said with a sneer. “Always follow the little red lights, s’what the boys in black’ve said to me. Little red lights for naughty little problems they want taken care of.” He had at least a foot of height on Kyle, and he used it to every advantage as he towered over him. “Guess you’re one of ‘em problems, lad.” He leaned in and licked a long swipe up Kyle’s cheek, humming appreciatively at the taste. “Fresh out o’ the tank, too. We’ll squeeze your clothes out into a bottle, and then we’ll squeeze you for a while until we get tired of playin’ around, yeah?”
“Or no,” Kyle choked, and he brought his knee up as hard as he could between the giant’s thighs. The man gave a shocked little moan as he crumpled back and down, and Kyle smoothed his wet hair out of his face and evaluated the other two men, who seemed nonplussed.
One of them reached for him, and Kyle grabbed his wrist, torqued it in a tight circle and sent his attacker toppling over the bent form of the giant, who snarled and struck back at his own companion as he tried to regain his composure. Kyle didn’t have any shoes, thanks to whoever that fucking guard had been, but his shin would do as a bludgeon in a pinch. He cocked his hip back and smashed the giant in the face, grimly noting to himself how much longer it took him to kick now that his combat mods were deactivated.
The third man looked at him and held up both his hands. “I’m not here for trouble,” he said smoothly. He looked as smooth as his voice, his long, neat handlebar moustache as bright as copper. “I just need a little taste of what you’re wearing.”
“You’ve got it,” the man congratulated him. “Just a tiny little lick and then I’ll help get you out of this mess.”
“I think I’m managing my mess just fine,” Kyle retorted, but even as he said it his head began to spin. Shit, right, he hadn’t finished the treatment.
“Perhaps you are for the moment. But we’re about to have some more visitors, and they’re not as…eager and incautious as Big Charlie there.”
“I don’t trust you.”
The man laughed. “You shouldn’t trust anyone, my dear, not after getting pushed out through the asshole of this fine facility. Someone wants you dead. I can help you avoid that, for the right price.”
No, this…this wasn’t the way things were supposed to go, was it? Wasn’t something supposed to…to…
“Too late,” the copper man said, with a hint of real regret in his voice. “Here comes the horde.”
Isidore swore when he realized what was happening. Of course it didn’t happen according to plan. Why would it? First Wyl and Robbie were running late, now Kyle Alexander was here early. And he wasn’t arriving in a way that would let Isidore lay an easy claim on him either.
New arrivals happened once a week, always at the same time, same place: the main entrance in the mess hall, in the hour before dinner. The timing ostensibly gave new inmates a chance to find a place to settle before directly slotting them into the routine of Redstone. In reality, it made the fighting rather fierce when newbies came in, because the major players wanted their chances at them first. Kliassne had first dibs on any woman who came through the door, hands down, blood up if anyone tried to argue with her. She didn’t treat anyone well, but if that particular boss had any redeeming feature, it was her refusal to allow other women to be turned into slaves. The guards wouldn’t have prevented it, and when it came to sex, the robots were next to useless.
Rory played the field more widely, and while a few people slipped through the cracks the two of them left behind, most didn’t. One of the few that did was Big Charlie, a wolf with a little pack of his own, not big enough to swat but not necessarily fun to fight with, either. Charlie had friends in high places, high enough that it wasn’t worth it to fuck with him unless you had to, because he’d twist things around and the next thing you knew, it was solitary down in the heart of Redstone. People went mad down there in short order, so it was to be avoided if at all possible.
Kyle was supposed to be in the group scheduled to arrive in fifteen minutes. Isidore was prepared to buy, bargain and steal to get his claim in on Kyle first. He’d hidden away a trove of little treasures in his clothes, things his fellow inmates were sure to want, and he was ready to fight if he failed at that, too. He was positioned near the door, his intent demeanor turning away anyone who might have tried to start a conversation with him. And then…then…
“Side door!” one of Rory’s wolves called out suddenly. “Side door! One young’un, and he’s laid out Big Charlie and his shadow!”
Isidore knew immediately it had to be Kyle. The side door was for people who were supposed to disappear, and if he didn’t get there soon Kyle would be overwhelmed. He began to push through the crowd, which surged along with him toward the little indent on the far wall where the side door was located. He had to play this just right, had to get to Kyle and stake his claim without giving away his purpose, his role. He couldn’t be a protector, he had to be dispassionate about it. How was he going to handle this?
“This new boy’s crazy as fuck, gents,” Pence said with a gleeful smile as he exited the little tunnel. “I suggest you proceed with caution.” Isidore barely spared him a glance as he plunged ahead, only to see Big Charlie and his shadow on the ground, and another person—one of Kliassne’s girls—darting at Kyle with a length of metal in her hand. She was going for his legs, and doing a decent job of it. Kyle looked disoriented, honestly like he was about to fall down. He slid into the wall as one of his legs gave out, and Kliassne’s girl shrieked with glee as she moved in to incapacitate him.
Fortunately, Isidore was close enough at that point to intervene. He stabbed the point of his foot into the girl’s kidney, and the thin layer of iron he’d painstakingly patched into his shoes paid off beautifully as she shrieked and fell to the floor.
Isidore darted forward, took one look at Kyle’s pained but determined face, and made a split second decision. He brought his reinforced palm around to the back of Kyle’s head, smacked it hard enough to knock Kyle out, and scooped him up onto his shoulder in one smooth motion. Isidore picked up the girl’s baton, knocked the next two closest people in their respective temples, and prepared to stand his ground. He only had to last long enough to make a deal with one side or the other…
“A claim?” one of Rory’s men shouted. “You’re making a claim? You? Sharks don’t keep harems, Iz.”
“But a man’s ways can change,” Isidore said. “He’s still wet from the tank. Let me have him without more trouble and I’ll give you his shirt.”
“Klia wants something too,” her girl hissed from where she lay on the ground. “You bargain with her or you make an enemy, Iz!”
“Klia can have the pants,” Isidore allowed.
Fifteen minutes later, he’d carried a bare-assed, unconscious Kyle Alexander past a hundred leering prisoners who nevertheless weren’t quite prepared to fuck with him, down into the heart of Redstone. Even with the boost the residual Regen soaked into his clothes gave him, Isidore was tired by the time he got down to his bunk. He set Kyle down carefully, rolled out his tired shoulders and sighed.
“Well. It could have gone worse.”