Jess slipped her helmet back on and mounted her bike. The balance on the bike felt weird, but right now people needed batteries. She made a loop of the parking lot, trying to get acquainted with the weight. It wasn't like she was going to be driving fast– but still, it paid to know the feel of the bike, and since that had changed...
Once she was satisfied, she headed back out into the night. It was eerie the way the night reflected her emergency lights and practically nothing else. Odder still was the lack of traffic.
‘Anybody with any sense is inside,' she muttered to herself, knowing all too well that the chaos was just getting into full swing.
She paused looking out across the darkened city. It was both eerie and beautiful-- still, there were places to go and people in need. She rested her hand on the battery packs for a moment then took a deep breath and headed out– the most urgent case, a patient's respirator. As near as dispatch could tell, the Jenkins' had about half an hour left on the old unit– and an hour more until transport could arrive.
She'd made it halfway there when everything came to a screeching halt, literally. As she rounded the corner, she pulled up just short of a make shift road block. She looked around, not exactly surprised to find seven or eight go-gangers blocking her way.
"Toll road," one of them informed her.
Jess looked at them and shook her head. "Gotta get through."
A second stepped forward- obviously one of the gang's Lieutenants. "No cash... no go."
Three more of the gangers moved a little closer, making the hairs on the back of Jess' neck stand up. She pointed to the caduceus on her uniform. "Toll free. When they say I need to go somewhere, I gotta go, now!"
"After you pay."
"People are going to die if you don't let me through," Jess growled.
"Doesn't matter to us," one of the gangers sneered as he moved a little closer eyeing her bike and the battery pack tied down on the back.
Jess took a deep breath and bowed her head as she tried to remain patient. "It should– because when you're the one waiting for medical services and they can't get to you because someone's..."
She stopped in mid-sentence as two motorcycles pulled in behind her, one on either side. She turned slightly so she could get a better view of the new comers. As she moved she let her hand slip closer to her Walther. She noted their leather jackets and markings. They were obviously gangers, but she had no idea what gang they belonged to, but she was fairly certain it wasn't the gang she was facing.
The last thing she needed was to be caught in the middle of another turf war. Worse– they might be working together. The odds were now at least 9 to one.
‘Not good,' she thought to herself as the gangers in front of her began posturing again. ‘Not good at all.'
"Gentlemen, I'd love to discuss this more– Later. I'm a medic... I don't carry cash... I carry oxygen and saltwater. If I had money, do you really think I'd be out discussing this with you?"
"Let the lady through."
Jess turned slightly as one of the riders to her side spoke then watched the gangers in front of her, waiting to see their reaction.
The spokesman of the group in front of her shook his head. "I'll let her... You paying the toll then?"
The rider shook his head. "I'm asking you to let her though, she's working."
Jess smiled slightly. At least some gangs still respected the unwritten truce between medics and the rest of the world. Too bad the leader of the group in front of her hadn't read that page.
He just stood there looking belligerent. "It ain't gonna happen."
"Well then we've got a problem," the ganger to her right stated. His companion continued to watch their surroundings.
"I doubt she's gonna go away, and I'm not going anywhere..."
The leader merely smirked. "We've got all night. Pay the toll or go around."
Jess looked at her rescuers and then back at the go-gangers.
"Tell you what," she said in an even tone. "Let me through and we'll consider it a reservation for medical services later. At this rate, you're going to need it..."
She could sense the man next to her tensing slightly as she waited for the ganger's response.
"You threatening me?"
Jess looked at him and shook her head. "I don't threaten people," she assured him. "I'm just making an observation. People in your line of work, tend to need people in my line of work."
Jess knew she was pushing things. Pushing herself and the gangers, but something had to happen, and soon. A quick look at her watch confirmed that the patient would be running out of juice soon. She had to do something, and trying to get around the roadblocks and the series of dead-ends that formed the neighborhood would take too long. She reached into her saddle bag and pulled out a flare.
She tensed slightly as the man next to her spoke again. "What kind of call are you on?"
It took her a moment to realize that he was talking to her. "Life support... bringing him a backup to keep him going until transport can arrive..."
He nodded then turned back towards the gang. "We don't have time for this. Let her pass."
Jess sighed as the gangers refused to change their song.
"Pay the toll or pay the price."
Jess consulted her on-chip map and verified that there was no way she'd reach her patient in time if she was forced to go around. The only way to get there was through– and that meant a fight. As she prepared herself for it, the rider to her right leaned over slightly.
"I'm Lance, my friend there is Tommy," he told her. "We'll clear a hole for you, you take it and keep going– we'll catch up..."
Jess nodded tensely and then watched as Lance and Tommy turned their bikes around and rode a short distance behind her.
Jess turned trying to take everything in at once. She watched as one of them extended something. She shook her head as she realized he was carrying a lance. It took her another moment to notice that his friend had one as well.
As they turned Jess realized the last place she wanted to be was in their way. She quickly wheeled out of their way and waited. Then everything seems to happen at once. Gangers were diving out of the way, or trying to brace against the charging bikes. After the first pass, one of the gangers had been knocked down by Lance, who was dragged down by the ganger's weight.
Jess froze as she saw one of the gangers draw down on Lance as he righted his bike. Without a second thought she flung the flare at the ganger, hitting him in his gun arm. Then she was moving.
The gang had too much fire power for her to remain stationary. As she came through the opening she saw the second rider go down with his would be target. The first biker skidded around, charging back towards his friend.
Jess reacted as the gangers began closing in on the downed biker. She grabbed another flare and lit it as she quickly moved away from the gauntlet the barricade had made. As she passed the last car she tossed the flare into it and gunned the engine on her bike, trying to put as much distance as she could between it and her.
As the flames lit up the scene, Jess could see Lance stop short of skewering a backpedaling ganger, and draw his gun.
On the other side she could see Tommy struggling with one of the go-gangers. Before she could do anything to help, he'd twisted the ganger into an arm-bar and tossed him aside.
Once things were looking clearer, Jess moved to the side, keeping an eye out for re-enforcements. The last thing they needed were any more surprises.
Everything was perfectly still for a moment, and then everybody started reaching for their weapons-- guns, knives, chains. Jess forced her breath out and drew her Walther. Things had just escalated to the next level.
Jess scanned the area, taking everything in while trying to remain mobile. Three gangers charged Tommy as he tried to get back on his bike. Elsewhere others were trying to get a shot in on his friend. A quick look around was enough for Jess. There was no way Tommy was going to make it back to his bike without some help, and there was no way she was going to leave before he was back on his bike.
Jess half turned as she heard a gunshot and saw a muzzle flash. Behind her, one of the gangers grappling with Tommy fell. Then Lance was involved in a fire fight of his own.
"Get cover!" he yelled at Jess who had all but frozen in the middle of the melee. She moved away from the others, trying to find a safe place, but no place was really safe.
Tommy had managed to throw off his attackers, but more were approaching. Even as Lance approached him, two more gangers grabbed Tommy. Jess swore to herself as she saw the flash of a blade, and lit another flare.
Mayhem seemed to be the rule now. Jess was moving, trying to add to the confusion and hopefully give the others the chance they needed. Lance was already heading towards a forming skirmish line, using the smoke from the flare to hide his movements.
Jess' main concern was Tommy. The gang was doing a good job of keeping him from getting to his bike and more seemed to be closing in.
She could see another ganger slash at Tommy, but this time he caught the ganger's hand. He was holding his own, but more members of the gang seemed to be crawling out of the woodwork. Jess thought for a moment, shifted her grip on the flare and flung it into the approaching knot of gangers.
They flinched but kept on coming. Shaking her head Jess fired a single bullet at their feet. It was a warning, the only one she was going to give.
While the others paused, Tommy threw off his attackers, kicking at one and flipping the other, then made a break for his bike.
Jess provided what cover she could, still trying not to shoot anyone– but, they had been warned and time was running out.
Between the flare and the cover fire, Tommy was able to reach his bike and right it. As he started it, Lance emerged from what could only be described as a dogfight with two other bikes. Jess could see his lance was bent, and that he was now relying on his gun.
"Go!" He yelled.
Jess nodded. She didn't need any further urging. The gang was already starting to recover from their first attack and things would only get worse if they stayed. As she rode away, Jess activated her radio and notified dispatch about the incident.
Once they cleared the area, Jess killed her lights. They were easy enough to track by sound, but there was no sense in sending the gang a search light to bring them in.
After a moment, the street was dark as Lance and Tommy followed suit. They rode along in silence for at least 5 minutes before Jess turned her lights back on. As she searched for the Jenkins' address, Lance and Tommy took up flanking positions alongside her.
For the first time since the black-out began, Jess felt safe.
Jess parked her bike in front of the Jenkins' row house and removed her helmet. She scanned the area and was relieved to find they'd left the gang behind.
"Thanks!" she called out as she began gathering her gear.
"Our pleasure" Tommy answered as he removed his helmet.
"We're outside of their turf for now. Are you going to have to go back that way, because they'll have more people with them next time."
"I wouldn't doubt it," she answered. "But... I'm pretty much at the mercy of dispatch."
"And Lone Star's not around enough to keep things uncomplicated at the moment?"
Jess nodded. "Fraid so. There's riots all over the place, looting, shooting...If things get really hairy... I can call for a strike team... but... They're kinda stuck in traffic same as everybody else."
"Need us to stick around?"
Jess was already heading up the stairs to the main door. She looked at her new guardians and smiled. "I wouldn't mind-- but... well.. you've seen what it's like."
Lance grinned. "It's up to you, we don't mind helping out."
Jess nodded, then went inside. There was too much to be done– once Mr. Jenkins' had been taken care of, then they'd be able to sort out the details.
A few moments later, Lance followed Jess inside, leaving Tommy with the bikes. He watched Jess as she installed the battery and checked on her patient. It was clear she knew what she was doing– and that she was used to taking care of herself– but things were getting bad outside.
He wasn't sure if she'd accept his offer, but he knew he had to make it. She was out there risking her life for others– it was the least he could do.
Once everything was finished, Jess turned to Lance and smiled. "By the way... I'm Jess– thanks!"
When Lance shook her hand, Jess caught the smell of smoke and noticed that his hair was singed.
"Looks like you've seen your share of action tonight."
Lance looked away. "I meant what I said... if you'd like us to stick around..."
Jess smiled. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate the offer... but well... this is how it is... rush around... wait... rush around... wait... moments of sheer terror followed by... long waits...Your usual bouts of chaos, confusion, and general mayhem. If you're lucky... something that approximates coffee... at the end of the trail."
Lance nodded. "We'll stick around then. You've got to get to the people who need you."
Jess smiled. "So what do you do when not rescuing medics in distress?"
Jess noticed the cautious look Lance gave her before answering. "I guess you could say neighborhood watch."
Jess nodded, and changed the subject. "I really appreciate the help back there."
"It's not a problem," he assured her. "Sometimes all they respond to is force. Sorry it had to happen like that."
Jess sighed. "Their choice."
"Unfortunately, but I can't think of a better option."
She nodded and then checked the patient's stats. She made a quick radio check and sighed. "Truck's still about ten minutes out..."
"That long? Things must be bad out there."
Jess chuckled slightly. "Heck... if this were rush hour they'd be about fifteen minutes out."
Lance nodded. "I never though about it like that. I guess that explains the bike."
"It gets through when the truck can't..." she told him, then added, "Hurts a lot more when you get hit though..."
"You don't have to tell me... How's the patient?"
She smiled, and suddenly nothing else mattered. "We got here in time... he'll be fine," she turned to look at her patient. "Won't you Mr. Jenkins?"
The man in the mask's eyes twinkled slightly as he gave Jess a thumbs up.
Jess looked over at Lance. "Bet when you woke up this morning-- you didn't figure you were going to be playing IV stand."
"Nope." Lance agreed with a smile.
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