Sam picked her least favourite news networks, Big News and Jackal News, and aimed her hatchets at their helicopters. The former’s slashers had cut her fingers off; the latter had told her that she was a Satanist for playing Dungeons and Drakes.
Jack’s voice entered her head. Stop thinking about Dungeons and Drakes and get your act together!
Hey! thought Sam. Quit reading my mind!
You’re the one who started this, Ken Benobi!
Sam sighed and shook her head. Telepathy was a son of a gun.
Don’t pout! thought Jack. Listen, are you ready yet?
Sam bit her lip. It was possible that she and Jack were about to kill a group of innocent reporters, camera operators, and helicopter pilots who didn’t know what they’d gotten themselves caught up in, like Coco. However, it was far more likely that they were about to exterminate a pack of flying vermin, like Mr Milk…or Marilyn, for that matter.
You take that back! thought Jack. That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about!
Sam smiled. She was way too intoxicated to make a good decision right now. I’m ready!
Good! Jack waved the Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts into the hatch on the roof of the cabin. All clear! Now!
Sam and Jack powered their hatchets and fire axe with wind and flame and threw them at the news network helicopters. Sam cut through the rotor blades of the Big News and Jackal News helicopters; Jack nailed the cockpit of the Great News helicopter.
Jack then jumped into the cabin hatch.
The three helicopters spun in the air and collided with the others around them, which in turn collided with the helicopters around them. All went down in flame. The helicopters exploded on the heads of the Patriots and the Weekend Warriors. A mushroom cloud burned Sam’s skin, stung her eyes, and filled her nose and mouth with smoke. She coughed and spat.
The Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts ran out of the cabin straight towards the ledge where Sam, Little Red Riding Hood, and Big Bad Wolf were waiting for them.
Jack’s plan to bomb the Patriots and the Weekend Warriors using the news network helicopters while hunkering down in the cabin did have a certain mad genius to it, Sam had to admit. Maybe he wasn’t so dumb after all. That or the Blue Nasties’ Friday night Dungeons and Drakes campaigns had rubbed off on him to the point where he could actually lead a party now.
Jack’s voice entered her head. I said stop thinking about Dungeons and Drakes!
A dozen Patriots sprang out of the inferno around the Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts with machetes raised above their heads. This was bad! Zone or no Zone, the Patriots were all B-list slashers and soldiers at that! Jack wasn’t even armed!
The Patriots fell to the ground dead.
Sam didn’t even see how Jack took the machetes.
She wiped her forehead. ‘Phew!’
Perhaps Jack was competent enough to lead the raid on the Red Dragon next Fri—
Damn it, Sam! I—
A pair of Weekend Warriors burst out of the smoke and ran up the hill towards Sam, Little Red Riding Hood, and Big Bad Wolf.
The one wearing an old computer monitor as a helmet spun computer fans around his fingers. ‘Tremble in terror, troublemakers! For I, Tetsuo the Iron Man, have come to deliver justice to the villain known as Sam Jacinto—who shot me in the ass!’
The one wearing a gold Buddha mask shook his prayer beads. ‘Put aside your petty grievance, Tetsuo! For I, Zen the Holy Man, have arrived to offer the wicked soul Sam Jacinto eternal enlightenment’—he tightened his prayer beads like a garrot—’through death! She shot me in the ass!’
Little Red Riding Hood shouldered her flechette shotgun and turned Tetsuo the Iron Man into mincemeat. Big Bad Wolf’s clawed Zen the Holy Man into chicken chunks.
Sam tittered, giggled, and finally doubled over laughing. ‘Why did they announce themselves like Rainbow Rangers?!’ She wiped her tears away. ‘Oh boy, have I become desensitised to violence.’
The Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts finally made it up the hill.
Little Red Riding Hood suddenly threw a metal net around them.
Before Sam could do anything, Big Bad Wolf had her in a bear hug from behind, restricting her movement. Though she was a lot tougher than Big Bad Wolf thanks to her Zone, he was a lot stronger. She couldn’t reach her chainsaw sword! The danger of the situation sobered her up instantly.
‘This is the end for all of you!’ said Big Bad Wolf. ‘The Lumberjack killed my best friend Golden Bear! Mezu assassinated Little Red Riding Hood’s whole family! We teamed up just so we could take you out!’
So that’s what Little Red Riding Hood’s deal is! thought Sam. She’s a slasher hunter like me!
‘You guys may know how to use the Zone,’ said Big Bad Wolf, ‘but that isn’t going to stop a flechette shotgun!’
Wait! That gun can kill Zone users?!
‘Do it, Little Red Riding Hood! Kill theeem!’
Sam felt conflicted. On the hand, Little Red Riding hood was a stranger who was about to kill her friends. On the other hand, she was a slasher hunter like her who was about to kill some slashers.
Little Red Riding Hood raised her flechette shotgun at the Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts.
Images of Sam’s squadmates getting stabbed by hooded men flashed through her mind.
With a burst of wind, Sam broke free of Big Bad Wolf’s grip. He clawed at her back, but she salsa twirled away, cut his outstretched arm off with her chainsaw sword, and kicked him back. She ran towards Little Red Riding Hood, who turned and fired.
The flechettes knocked Sam back, but that was it.
Mezu cut himself out of the metal net—and cut Little Red Riding Hood’s head off.
Big Bad Wolf howled. ‘Nooo! Little Red Riding Hoood! I’ll kill you all for this! I’ll kill you aaall!’ He turned and ran.
So that was it. Little Red Riding Hood and Big Bad Wolf had severely underestimated the Zone. This wasn’t surprising, since to a non-Zone user, the Zone was invisible. Sam probably just looked like she was cutting things she shouldn’t have been able to cut and taking damage she shouldn’t have been able to take. They probably thought the Zone was something like hysterical strength. Their mistake had cost them dearly.
The other Blue Nasties and Lonely Hearts cut their way out of the metal net.
‘Come on!’ said Sam as she waved them over. ‘Big Bad Wolf is the only one who knows the way out of the forest!’
The Blue Nasties and the Lonely Hearts ran after Big Bad Wolf. Before Sam went with them, though, she ran over to Little Red Riding Hood’s head and took the faceless white mask off.
A pretty blonde, around her age.
Was that the right thing to do?
‘Move it!’ said Jack.
Sam ran after her friends.