Child of the World (10.3) The Street Trash

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PART 3

Led by Anarchy. The Street Trash knew it was them, she even knew exactly who was at the head of the attack and what they needed to do to counter it. However, she couldn’t say it, it would reveal too much about her intellectual capacity, the kind of amount that made enemies out of allies.

Especially in the Scavengers. That was how the Schoolboy had become her opponent in the first place.

Andy would take another minute or so to realize he had to call the Chancellor and have him wake up some pilots. All the lives lost until then would be on her conscience.

Jamie was already walking to help others escape like Andy had no doubt told her to. She looked up, thinking of those lost souls.

Sucks to be you.

The Street Trash walked out of the building at a brisk, nervous pace. The sound of engine cutting through the air soared above her and she acted surprised. The small aircraft dropped something not very imaginative or inventive: dynamite sticks.

Seriously?

One of them landed next to them, it rolled in their direction but he quickly saw the fuse was nowhere near short enough to warrant concern. However, some around him sped away.

Jamie picked it up and pinched the small flame shut.

“Heh,” Andy sneered at the boys and girls that had fallen out of the way or back down the stairs. “I’ll call the Chancellor and have him–”

The Street Rat stopped listening, there was no point. Instead, he pocketed the dynamite for later. Jamie didn’t know for what but he wasn’t about to waste a good dynamite stick. He then ran off.

Usually, they wouldn’t need to do anything, but that was a district mostly inhabited by children. Children were curious and thought themselves immortal – the Street Trash knew that better than anyone – so they would be out in the open, watching as the commotion developed.

“Hey! What’re ya? A couple o’ possums? Stop layin’ n’ get back inside!”

The aircraft that had made a pass returned, one of two that were circling the sky. As it approached, an apparent recording blared out of some speakers which were apparently a part of the machine.

“WE ARE LED BY ANARCHY!” Extremely loud mini-cannons opened fire on the streets. “CIVILIZATION WILL CRUMBLE AND ORGANIZATIONS–” it zoomed past, Doppler effect making the Street Trash lose some words. People screamed and yelped, in fear or dying, and as the plane flew away, the rest of the words made through “…RRENDER YOURSELVES TO CHAOS! AND TO THE WILL OF THE EVOLVED!”

Evolved? So the Mad Genius wasn’t the only one with delusions of grandeur, or perhaps, he was part of it? Maybe he was playing the spy.

He wasn’t. The Mad Genius was a terrible actor, the Street Trash had noticed. Everyone in the meeting knew he was responsible for whatever happened to the Dark Runner.

Bullets trailed the floor, mere feet away from the Street Trash, hitting a beggar that had been trying to escape. That brought her back to the matter at hand.

“I said get inside!” He pushed a kid through an opened door and then turned away and ahead, towards the rest of the street. “Get inside, ya bean sprouts! Else no one’s gettin’ any supper today!”

It was funny how that had more of an impact than bullets raining down all around them. It was only once he left the block that he realized how bad it was.

An explosion sounded out and the Street Trash noticed a street littered with bodies, bleeding and groaning, probably the outcome of the first pass.

She grinned and shook her head, running off once again.

You idiots have no idea the hole you’re digging yourselves into.

No one had challenged the Scavengers in over a century. Not only were they assumed to be too spread out to even feel an attack, but the idea of killing children wasn’t popular. In a way, the youth was their shield.

Not to monsters, however.

And that was the fact, the damming fact, that made it so dangerous to be a Scavenger. If someone called the bluff and just attacked, there was very little they could do.

They were a bunch of homeless people and children, they had no real combative capability, much less against planes.

Nothing else of interest happened, from the Street Trash’s perspective. People died, most of which were kids though few of them actual members of the guild. Whether that was good or not depended on the perspective.

Airplanes belonging to Neyerk showed up eventually, all three of them. That’s when the attack was supposed to end, but if there was one thing the Street Trash could never account for, it was the personal skill of individuals Jamie didn’t know.

The two LBA pilots actually engaged the three Neyerk combatants. Their planes were superior in maneuverability and so they put on ten minutes worth of a show to everyone who was on the ground, looking up in shock. They twirled and banked, dove and flew circles around the three regular pilots. The wings of the two planes moved with the wind, with the movement, it allowed them tighter control.

One plane crashed on top of what had been their meeting point, another blew up in the sky, raining debris across the floor. The third tried to escape back to the center of the city but was shot down, ending up crashing across a row of makeshift cottages and most likely taking lives along with it.

The realization that they were absolutely screwed only dawned on them all once the wind was whistling, in protest, as the two planes dove back down at them.

“RUUUN!”

Even Jamie needed to snap back from that one.

The recording blaring out from the speakers was now different. So much so that Jamie realized it had never been a recording, the pilots were actually repeating and talking in real time.

Laughter was playing. Loudly and in a scratchy echo, like a soundtrack to gun-fire. And the eventual explosion.

Jamie ran as one of the planes strafed the street he was on, but stabbing pain interrupted all the thoughts running through him.

She yelped and fell to the ground.

Jamie was pulled up by stronger arms than she expected.

“You okay there, Jamie? Get up on your feet!” Jordan forced her to walk but her left thigh jabbed at her so abruptly she couldn’t help but trip over herself. It took all her self-control not to blush.

“They got my leg,” the Street Trash reported. She breathed, pulling up a character, acting would help, acting tough. Lasting acute pains she could deal with, sudden stabs were more his thing. Jamie stood up and hopped to the wall.

“I think it went through.”

“It went through,” Jordan turned his back and crouched, “no worries though, climb on.”

Jamie kicked his back, pushing Jordan to headbutt the ground.

“I said stop layin’ moves on me.” He turned and pushed against the wall, limping his way through the pain, “we need to get to crabs, there’s no adults there to tell the kids what to do.”

“Man, we are kids,” Jordan pointed out, massaging his face while standing up.

“No, we’re not,” the Street Trash stated, “we’re Scavengers.”

Jordan stood for a few seconds, realizing Jamie was right. He then followed suit.

The “Crabs” was the name of a block, they had a name for all of them so they could schedule meetings in the open without anyone knowing exactly where it was. Fewer ambushes that way.

The plane made another pass but both ducked under a balcony that wouldn’t have been much cover if the bullets had actually been aimed at them.

Once the broadcasted laughter was far enough from them, they resumed.

“’Re the Teens okay?”

“I don’t think anybody’s okay right now, man,” Jamie commented, limping onward as fast as was possible. “I dunno. Andy put the call to the Chancellor, maybe he was still at the meet. That’s where one of the planes crashed.”

“This’s insane.”

“Jamie!” He looked in the direction of the voice, finding Cameron, one of the twenty that had been in the meeting and was actually known to the Street Trash. “You’re hurt!” She and Jamie were very good friends, and very near looked like sisters if it wasn’t for the smaller green eyes and more yellowish skin. And for the fact that Jamie was still dressing to look like a boy if he wanted to.

“Not too much.”

Cameron edged her shoulder in and put Jamie’s arm around both of them, giving her support and speeding up the limping.

“Thanks.”

“Hey, how comes it’s fine if she helps,” Jordan complained.

“She’s helping me, Jordan, not carryin’ me.”

“Bah.”

Boys…

As the Street Trash had expected, they found two big groups of children, huddling up beneath the ceiling of some building that had already been blown apart. So stupid.

“Hey!” Jamie yelled at them impatiently, “what’re you? Radishes? Move your butts, get to cover!”

“What’s coveh?”

The wind whined once more, a plane was making a pass.

“Ah cripes, Jordan, c’mon, go!”

“Uh, right!” Jordan darted off running all while Jamie wobbled and crashed the free arm, shoulder-first, into the door right next to him and Cameron. It didn’t budge.

“Ow.”

“Alright alright, geez,” Cameron helped Jamie force open the door, which was flimsy to begin with. Jordan was gesturing the children deeper into the building when bullets came trailing towards him. Jamie saw him jump away just when the door gave and they fell in.

Bullets passed through the door but they were well out of harm’s way. Then a dynamite stick fell over and gingerly rolled to a stop right in front of the opened door.

This one’s fuse was too short.

Crap!

“AHH!”

They rolled in opposite directions, aggressively pushing off of each other. It was helpful even though they weren’t actually trying to help each other.

She didn’t lose conscience but she did lose a few seconds of life as her every sense decided to take a break, probably in reaction to a kind of fright one just cannot resist or avoid. The explosion rocked her every bone, her hearing went deaf and her heart stopped.

Her thoughts returned to the sound of a deep, continuous whistle. It spread into the numerous sounds that actually surrounded her as they, gradually, rose to notice. Jamie breathed and felt nothing but her leg hurting, the same wound as before.

The Street Trash opened his eyes and looked around. The door had blown off, as had the glass on the window, some of it was on top of her. That made her aware of a cut on his arm but it wasn’t serious, just a scratch. The walls had held, they had spewed dust and particles of rock, but they had held.

He looked at Cameron who looked at him, apparently having gone through all the same situational awareness. They nervously scoffed.

Then they laughed.

They laughed all the way to when Jordan was with the kids, all safe and sound. Finally, Jamie looked to his leg to find out it had been a graze. A deep cut nonetheless, due to the size of the bullets, but there hadn’t been any actual penetration.

“Your leg’ll be fine.”

“Yeah,” Jamie agreed, “dunno ‘bout my pride though-ouch.” Cameron was bandaging it with the sleeve of a jacket they had found abandoned. Not necessarily from a fleeing person, it could have several days on it.

“Guess we hang back here until they split.”

Are they going away?” Jordan asked, looking up as if afraid of the sky.

“Well,” Jamie shrugged, “they gotta run outta bullets sometime, right?”

“Why are they doing this?” Cameron asked. “I get they wanna take us down a notch but why attack us like this?”

The Street Trash looked away in thought, not trying to find out the reason, he already knew, but he was deciding if it was okay to share it with them.

Cameron was a good friend, however.

“Only explanation’s that they knew ‘bout the Teens bein’ here,” Jamie explained, “they prolly hopin’ to take down enough o’ them to hurt us? I mean, most of us only really listen to the teens.” Jamie was the same, he’d never listen to anyone else, why would he? Nobody else had given proof they were smart enough to lead.

“But that’s what I mean, how could they have found that out?”

“Emeryn,” Jamie thought immediately, “she was really off during the meeting, I wouldn’t put it beside her to make mistakes.”

“That’s true, she’s totally outgrown us, hasn’t she? She needs to leave.”

“Might be we just have a spy,” Jamie grinned against the shocked expressions of the others. That was unthinkable. Due to the amount of natural coercion that took place during their formation, sellouts and traitors were a really rare thing. That was the case with all the big name guilds, however, just through different methods. “Hey, never know. I’d say Schoolboy but then, of course I would.”

They giggled, a bomb sounding way off.

“Still, antagonizing us like this is a huge mistake, and so soon too,” Camera pointed out.

Jamie smiled.

Yes, even when things went the worst they could go…it was all still beneficial to her plans. This attack would all but lock down the very last decision she wanted the Teens to make. The Street Trash was sure now that they’d do what she wanted.

“Let’s hope we live to see some payback,” the Street Trash mentioned, grabbing hold of the knot Cameron was making. In a grunt of pain, he pulled it tight. “Let’s focus on that for now.”

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