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Thor races around the corner of the rocky cliff and waves to the interceptor, yelling:

“The caravan is coming!”

If they were smart, the caravan would have driven for the citadel with everything they had, so they would protect their precious cargo. But warboys aren’t always smart, and when they see prey, they often chase it. Thor makes effective bait, and sure enough, the first citadel bike comes around the corner. Thor and Shao aim and the two warboys fall dead. The gun shots ring out, a warning too late for the caravan. The large van holding the cargo rounds the corner, brakes screeching as it tries to stop. Books shoots the driver with ease and the van screeches to a stop. The car behind the van roars around it, ready to attack, but a well thrown thunder stick sends it tumbling, explosions blooming.

There’s a moment of silence as they look over the carnage. They are all alert, waiting for an enemy to rise up and attack, but all of the white painted bodies are still. Thor looks to the interceptor and Shao nods.

“Let’s see what we’ve got.”

Boo Boo cheers:

“I hope there’s mother’s milk.”

Shao grimaces.

“That shit is disgusting. I can’t believe y’all drink human milk.”

Boo Boo ignores him and bounces over to the van, cutting the chain holding its doors shut and throwing them open. Shao hears him gasp and that hurries his steps, until he’s running towards the door.

Inside the van has a padded floor and walls, the fabric haphazardly nailed on to make it softer than blank metal. Three figures huddle in the back of the van, as far away from the doors as they can get. They’re beautiful, and two of them have long black hair while the third has a large afro. Shao knows exactly why they were being taken to the citadel and it turns his stomach.

Behind him, Books shouts from the interceptor:

“What is it?”

Boo Boo yells back:

“It’s breeders!”

Shao slaps him gently and snarls:

“Don’t call them that. They’re people.”

Boo Boo looks embarrassed and repeats:

“It’s people!”

Books nods and yells:

“Well, someone get in the van and let’s get out of here, old Joe’s going to be spitting mad.”

Shao looks at the women’s wild eyes and knows they need someone calm, someone non threatening as possible. So he calls:

“Dizzee! Get in back with them, tell them what’s going on.”

Dizzee nods and crawls into the van. One of the women hisses, hands curling into fists, in a warning not to come any closer. Dizzee puts his hands up and stays as far away as possible. Shao pulls the doors shut and heads towards the front, pulling the dead warboy out of the front seat as he yells:

“Books, you lead in the interceptor. Then the van, then Thor.”

Books and Thor nods and Shao starts the van, roaring away from the still smoldering car they had destroyed.

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Dizzee gives the women an even look and says:

“I’m Dizzee. We’re enemies of the citadel, we will not hurt you. May I know your names?”

The women look at each other, unsure, before the first woman speaks:

“I’m Mylene. This is Regina,”

She gestures at the other woman with long hair, and continues:

“And Yolanda.”

The darker skinned woman with the afro.

Dizzee nods and says:

“Thank you. Do you have a home, some place you were taken from? We will return you to there, if possible.”

Mylene looks hopeful as she says:

“We are of Cisco’s people. Do you know of us?”

It’s a distant settlement, two day’s drive, but they have visited there before. Dizzee is glad; he wants to be able to help these women.

“We do. Once we are sure we are not followed, we will take you there.”

The women share another look, hopeful but anxious. Dizzee understands; how can they trust these strangers? The only proof will be action.

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Books pulls the interceptor to a stop and Shao follows in the van. They’re far enough from the citadel now that they should be safe. Shao steps out of the van just as Books steps out of the interceptor, and together they walk to the back of the van. Shao hopes Dizzee has made a good impression on the women. Boo Boo saunters over as well as Ra Ra, and Thor comes up last. Books opens the door to find Dizzee happily chatting with the women. They all blink at the bright sun and turn to look at the men outside the van. Shao asks:

“How’s it going, Dizzee.”

Dizzee smiles and says:

“May I introduce Mylene, Regina and Yolanda.”

Shao nods and Books says:

“Nice to meet you.”

The women wave hello and Mylene says:

“We are of Cisco’s people. Dizzee says you will take us home?”

Shao nods.

“It’s not too long of a drive, shouldn’t be a problem.”

Thor steps up, holding a bottle of water and hands it to Dizzee.

“Before we get going, they should have a drink.”

Dizzee hands the bottle over and the women drink deeply and gratefully. One they’re done, everyone returns to their cars, or bike, and they take off for Cisco’s settlement, racing across the sand.

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They pull up to Cisco’s settlement, staying a good distance away, just to be safe. Mylene leaves the back of the van and walks up to the driver’s side window to talk to Shao.

“I will go ahead to talk to them, let them know you are friendly. If you are willing to stay, there will no doubt be a celebration and Cisco will want to reward you.”

Shao shifts, uncomfortable with staying, but Boo Boo gives him pleading eyes from the interceptor. Shao sighs and says:

“We’ll stay.”

Mylene nods and leads Regina and Yolanda into the settlement. A few minutes later they come back out and say it’s safe to enter. As they drive into the settlement, Shao can see signs of destruction, no doubt caused by the citadel’s raiding party. They stop in the center of the settlement, where a mustached man greets them. Shao remembers Cisco and they talk amicably for a few minutes. Then the celebration begins, wine being passed out and drums beaten to an upbeat tune. Boo Boo and Ra Ra dance to the music with glee, and Books cuddles close to Shao as he sips at his wine. Dizzee is still happily chatting with the trio they had rescued. Books smiles up at Shao and says:

“We did a good thing today.”

Shao raises his glasses, watching the sparks from the fire rise up into the dark sky, and says:

“May we do many more.”

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