Graveyards & Gearheads
"A graveyard, are you fucking shitting me?"
Quinn grumbled to himself as he stomped toward the gazebo where he'd been told they would meet.
"Someone has a seriously lame sense of humor."
Stairs that looked like they could collapse under the weight of a squirrel led up to a brick deck that had seen better days and a fountain that time and the weather had had their way with. A lone figure stood on the other side.
Ah. That must be the other recruit, what was his name? Jim, James...
Quinn tossed the bangs of his blue hair over his eye as he suddenly realized he was nervous. It was an unfamiliar feeling, and he didn't like it.
What the hell? Come on Quinn, you have nothing to be nervous about. Everyone who joins the Order is an outcast in some way. Hell, I'm probably the most normal recruit they've ever had. No reason to be nervous. At. All.
Still the urge to turn around and march back down to the street rode his every step.
But damn it, he wasn't a quitter. If he was he would have been a lost cause a long time ago. Zeroing in on the figure that was still lost in the dark, he squared his shoulders and walked over.
"So, hey. I'm Quinn..."
As the figure stepped out of the shadows, Quinn had to stop and blink. This, was not what he had expected.
The man... no strike that. The boy standing in front of him couldn't have been more than eighteen. He was thin, fragile looking. Pretty came to mind. And as his eyes darted around looking at everything but Quinn, it was clear he was considering a change of mind about joining the Order and making a run for it, just as Quinn had. The members of the Order were warriors, described by Citizens as brutal killers only one step up from animals. This kid was about as menacing as a kitten wearing a tutu.
Quinn could barely hear the kids mumbled reply of "Hi, I'm John."
Sigh. Even his name is ordinary. Gee, ain't this gonna be a barrel of laughs.
"So... I guess we're gonna be training together." Quinn tried to break the ice.
"Hey, I guess."
"So... where did they find you?"
The kid shuffled his feet, looking uncomfortable. Great, one minute in and Quinn had already hit a nerve.
"I mean, most recruits are found at a Sanctuary. Just wondering whereabouts you came..."
To Quinn's relief his small talk was cut off by another voice.
"Greetings Quinn, John. I'm Dante. I'll be your chauffeur for the evening."
Turning, the frown that had developed between Quinns eyes deepened. Granted, compared to pretty boy John, Dante was definitely a man. Hard muscle showed clearly under the guys clothing, and he moved in a silent, easy way that read 'lethal'. But still, this guy could be on the cover of GQ with his silk shirt, expensive shoes and dress slacks. Dress slacks! Where were the brutal killers he had been told stories about his whole life?
Feeling confused and a little disappointed, Quinn followed John down the rickety steps to shake Dante's hand.
At least the guy has a firm grip.
"So what's the deal with meeting in Spooksville? Someones idea of a cheesy joke?"
Dante let out an amused chuckle.
"Nah. We just figured it was the one place no one else would be around at 4am on a Monday. As you may have noticed, the Order is big on secrecy. Even more so lately... Anyways! I'm sure its been a long night for the two of you. So how about I get you to the compound. Then all the questions I'm sure you have will be answered, promise."
Quinn shrugged and followed him out of the graveyard and to the street.
As they took off in Dante's sweet Yomoshoto Evasion, Quinn slumped down in the back seat and thought about his decision to join the Order.
John was clearly an orphan the Order had found at one of the Sanctuaries scattered across the continent. That's the way it usually went down; some poor schmuck would be brought in that no one wanted so a call was put out to the Order. They were sort of collectors of the dejected and the rejected.
Not Quinn though. Nope. He had grown up in his families clan with two parents, an older brother and a younger sister. His father was the current leader of their clans city and the CEO of EON Corp, the billion dollar global corporation that funded his mothers redecorating addiction. Money. So not an issue. His brother Jaden graduated top of his class and was being groomed to be second in command to dear old Dad. He had aced his 'ruthless' classes, Quinn could attest to that. Little sister Kayla? Lets just say by age 7 she had the Princess act down pat. Jaden better watch his back, or he'll find her pink bedazzled knife in it one of these days.
But on the surface they were the picture of a perfect family. Well, they would have been, if Quinn hadn't been around. Perfect, he was not. And his 'loving' family let him know it every minute of every day of his life. From the moment he was born he had been a thorn in their sides they couldn't get rid of. And hard as he tried to make up for it, it was never enough. So one day he had said screw it, went to the mall and got his first piercing. It drove his family crazy, and he loved it.
You would think that with age cam wisdom, tolerance, understanding. Sorry, no such luck kids. All that the extra years had given the Citizens of the Clans was a bad case of 'the snobs'. Wealth and status were all that was important to them and all things that showed off those two idealized states treasured. Flashy cars, shiny jewels, designer clothes, manicures on Mondays and facial treatments on Thursdays. Perfection was king, and imperfection not tolerated.
Quinn looked at John, who was silently chewing a fingernail out of existence in the front seat.
My parents would have loved a second son like you pretty boy; polite, easy to control, with two matching eyes...
When he had turned early, it was a blessing. Quinn hadn't wasted any time contacting the Order and asking to join. And when word came back that he had been accepted, it felt like for the first time in his life he was wanted.
Quinn was pulled from his thoughts as the car rolled to a stop outside a tall fence and gate that screamed "stay the hell out!". Dante punched the numbers on a keypad and the gates rolled open.
As soon as the car pulled to a stop Quinn jumped out and his eyes lit up.
"Whoa! You guys have some seriously cool rides!"
It was a thing of beauty, the kind you only ever saw in magazines or trade shows. And that engine! The thought of all that power between his legs... pure heaven.
"Uh, yeah. I wouldn't touch the boss' baby if I were you" came Dante's voice from behind him. "Not if you enjoy your manhood, if you catch my drift" he added with a chuckle.
"Oh! Uh, right. Just looky, no touchy. Gotcha."
"So this is the compound, huh? Gotta say, not what I expected. Kind of a lot of big windows aren't there? Or do shutters cover them during the day? Still, pretty impressive..."
"Uh hold up there cowboy. Hate to break it to you, but that's just window dressing. We're headed this way."
One of the doors of the brick box that was obviously a garage rolled up as Dante walked over, John following behind him.
Huh. Note to self: don't touch anything and shut the fuck up before you embarrass yourself again.
"The house is just for show in case anyone wanders down this way," Dante said as he led them into an elevator at the back of the garage. "As I'm sure you both can appreciate, we prefer our digs to be a little more... UV protected."
As they stepped off the elevator Dante went into 'tour guide' mode.
"We have only been here for a little over a month, so some areas are still a little rough. Well, okay, a lot of areas are rough. But most of the living areas are pretty much done."
"This is the main corridor. From here the workout room is too your left, the kitchen, dining and TV room is at the end there, and to our right is the war room."
"This is where assignments are given out, reports are made... it's basically the nerve center of the place. Hey Gid," Dante said to a sketchy looking guy with big glasses and hair that looked like it was trying to crawl off his head. "These are the new recruits, Quinn and John. Guys, this is Gideon. He runs the war room and is our resident genius."
John mumbled a hello while Quinn decided to stick to his vow of silence. A GQ model and a twitchy nerd looking dude. What the hell was going on here?
Gideon pinned them both with a squinty stare.
"Hi. Don't touch anything."
No worries dude, I got that one covered.
Dante just laughed. "Lighten up Gid. Do you know where Ash is?"
"What, do I look like the boss mans babysitter?"
"No, but I thought you knew everything O'genius one."
"Har har. That would be Ash, whom I'm sure will be here when he's good and ready. You know how he is."
"Yeah. OK well..."
"... I guess we'll continue the tour until..."
"...I show up?" a deep voice cut in.
Before he had even turned fully towards the voice Quinn knew he wasn't going to be disappointed again. The ripple of power that preceded the man striding towards him was like nothing he had ever felt before. Even his father, whom he had always seen as the most powerful being on the planet, paled in comparison. Quinn didn't need introductions to know this was Acheron, leader of the Order.
"These must be my new recruits. Welcome, I'm Acheron."
So this is the guy who even the mention of his name makes men like my father quake in their boots. Huh.
Just to look at him, he wasn't THAT scary. He certainly didn't look like the depraved, blood drooling monster of stories told to scare naughty children. But that "fuck with me and your dead" vibe... he could see how the stories came about. Powerful men like his dad wouldn't like being made to feel weak, and this dude didn't even need to speak to do that.
To look at, he was definitely a warrior. Like Dante, his muscular body couldn't be hidden under a t-shirt and leather pants. His long blond hair made Quinn think surfer dude, but the deadly cold that lived in his strange, yellow eyes negated his easy smile as he shook hands with him and pretty boy.
"I'm sure your both tired after traveling all night. Evening meal is in half an hour."
Acheron turned his weird, yellow eyes on Quinn, making him squirm.
"Dante will show you to your room so you can settle in a little, then you can come up to the dining room and meet everyone else."
Quinn took a nervous breath as he decided to break his silence.
"Well it won't take long to unpack, since we were told we could only bring the clothes on our backs. Why is that anyways?"
"I know that must have seemed extreme. But through past experience we have found that a complete break from the past, with no reminders lingering, helps new recruits to adjust to their new life. Make no mistake, you are both starting a new life. One that we hope you will find pride in."
Acheron turned to look at pretty boy now.
"This isn't just a job, with a job place and co-workers. This is a way of life... and a family. We look out for one another, not just out in the field but at all times. If you make it through training, not only will you have earned a place in the Order, you will have gained six brothers who would die to protect you."
... brothers who would die to protect you...
The words hit Quinn like a sledge hammer. If only it were true. He would give anything... but, no. He had let his wall down before, and it just hurt too much. Better to leave things as they were and simply be happy to have gotten away from his family at last.
"As for anything you might need like clothes, toiletries, whatever, you can let Nathaniel know at dinner and he'll take care of it. In a few days we should have your credit cards set up and you can go out and get whatever else you need to make this feel like home, OK?"
Acheron turned to Dante. "Show them their room then get back up here. We have a situation in Bogtown that I need to fill you in on."
Dante frowned. "Gotcha. I'll be quick."
Quinn trailed after Dante and pretty boy as they headed back to the elevator, his mind trying to take in everything that was happening as it suddenly struck him.
This is real. I'm not daydreaming about something that didn't even feel real before. I'm really REALLY in the Orders headquarters' compound, about to be shown my room, where I'll sleep, because I'm a part of this now! Shit.
They took the elevator down to another level where Dante brought them into a good sized room that had been split into two areas. In one was a small couch, arm chair, TV with a sweet game system already hooked up, and a ghetto blaster that looked like it belonged in a museum. In the other were two bed and a dresser. As for the decor...
"I know it isn't much to look at, but we thought you two might want to do the decorating yourselves. It's your space, so once you get your credit cards you can do whatever you want."
Dante then turned and headed out the door.
"When your ready, the dining room is at the end of the main corridor to the right. I'll see you there in a little while."
Quinn looked around at the grey floor, cement walls and grey ceiling, already making a mental list of what he would need to make this place livable.
"No worries roomie, I know exactly what to do to make us some sweet digs!"
"Um, sure, go for it" pretty boy said in his now patented barely above a whisper mumble.
Sigh. Oh lord, just shoot me now.
NOTE: Unfortunately it wasn't until I had gotten most of the screen captures done that I realized I still had the graphics for the game set for gameplay, which I use a lower quality of graphics for to stave off performance issues. So, some of the captures aren't up to my usual standard *lol* Next Episode they will be ;-)