Brown and Red

This is fan-fiction. I love Kimia Wood’s White Mesa stories, and I decided to write one for her. She has given me permission to reproduce it here (although she’s hinted that she might decide it’s canon someday, and make it available through her website).

Sylvester Brown regarded the unfortunate man who sat slumped in the chair on the other side of his large, metal desk. The young man’s ridiculous hair had been damaged in his tussle with Security, and several of the long, red strands hung down over the right side of his face. Beneath the shadow cast by the hair, a bruise darkened the skin, shifting darker just in the time since the Security Men had brought him in.

Brown liked to smile. Casually, comfortingly, patronizingly — Brown usually smiled through these interviews with the savages brought in for questioning. He learned a great deal, and occasionally found a “diamond in the rough,” as the Old Republicans would have said — someone who could contribute to the progress and development of the New Republic.

Mr. Brown found himself unable to smile. He looked at the device on the desk before him, and absently straightened it with two fingers. It was outlandish, as all of the old weapons were: angular, cumbersome to swing or throw. He looked at the kill switch, the empty void below for the clamazine to go with the charges.

“Where did you get it?” he asked, again, calmly, as Brown always spoke calmly with the savages from outside the boundary.

“I told you,” the other slurred. He hunched his head to try to rub his swollen face on his shoulder. His hands were tied behind his back, unfortunately, because he had tried to harm Brown when the Security had first left him in the room. These interviews went better when the prisoner felt more free.

“You told me that you took it from someone. I want to know who that person is.” They had covered this ground many times, but each time, the answers made no sense.
“He didn’t tell me a name.” The prisoner glared past the dangling threads of hair. They had been glued together with something — probably animal fat — and then stained red with rust.

“How many times do you meet someone new, out there?” Brown asked. “Someone that you’ve never seen before?”

“I never met your security before,” the other sulked, but that wasn’t quite true, either. His gang had been moving into the Grasshopper territory because they had met the Security, and didn’t like it.

“Where did this man come from? What is his territory? What is the name of his gang?”

“I don’t know!” The prisoner tried to surge to his feet, but his hands were also tied to the back of his chair, and he caught himself before he fell to the floor. Brown glanced at the large, gleaming mirror on the wall. From the Old Republic, that was. Security sat in the dark, behind it, watching for danger. The small grill below it was new. The Old Republicans may have had ways to listen from behind a solid wall, but in the New Republic a hole in the wall was necessary.

“How did you meet him?” Brown adjusted the pad of paper and glanced at the notes he had taken so far. The pad had belonged to someone named Max, back when printers could put your name on anything. The box it had come from was more than half empty, but for now, Brown exulted in the smooth texture of the yellow paper, and the smooth, straight blue lines.

“I told you, he’s a trucker,” the gangster mumbled. “They come, sometimes, out there.” He waved with his head. “We been watching, and we saw that they went to the same places a lot. Some of those places was in the Grasshoppers’ terr’tory. So, we figured, the Grasshoppers is weak, and we could go in there and take the trucks.”

“And, did you take the trucks?”

“We got one of them!” A proud gleam showed in the gangster’s eye. “It was broke, though, so we let the truckers have it back.”

“I have never heard of the Mohawks giving anything, even something broken, for free.”
“It weren’t for free! I got that clock there!” He pointed with his chin at the object on the table.

“Did they call it a clock?”

“No, they just said it was their things.”

“Did they give it to you so that you would give them the truck?”

“No. I took it from the one we caught. We beat on him and took his things. The governor got his hat and I got his clock.”

“So, what did the … truckers … give you for the truck?”

The gangster looked down at the floor. “They killed Jimmy, and Pike, and the feral they had got three of our guys in the building. I just wanted them to go before we lost anyone else.

“The truck was broke, anyway! We tried it, and it didn’t go! Carl talked to it the way he has, even. But, the trucker got in and it just … went!”

“And so they got into the truck and left?”

“Well, they went by on the little truck, with a few of them, and some of the guys chased them, even though it was stupid. The little truck is way faster than the big one. And then, when their mayor got in the truck, and it started, one of the guys tried to knife him but they killed him … they had one of those clocks, too, and they just killed him from where they were standing.”

“Which way did they go?”

“How do I know which way? We had dead boys, and feral-bit, and some new stuff! They went off towards the sundown, I think, but they turn a lot. Maybe they’re from Harvey? I thought they might be from here.”

That part, at least, promised to be true. The Red Mohawks had attacked one of the southern border posts. Fortunately for the security, the tomahawks and arrows of the gang had been more effective than the strange weapon on the desk. Simple to use, it was never the less difficult to aim, and the charges it had fired had smashed loudly into the walls rather than into the men. Like the rifles carried by the security, but not so old. Not old, at all. The metal was clean, for the most part, without a trace of rust, and the design was new. Somewhere, out there, someone — someone not the New Republic — was making these weapons. Making new ones. And driving … trucks.

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